Boldin tested his leg on the field before the game, but the Pro Bowl player was deemed unfit to play, a blow for the pass-happy Cardinals. Second-year wide receiver Steve Breaston started in his place opposite Larry Fitzgerald, and Jerheme Urban was expected to see more playing time in Arizona's multiple receiver sets.
Boldin caught 89 passes for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season despite missing four games with injuries. Arizona was 3-1 without Boldin.
Tight end Ben Patrick (knee) also didn't dress for the Cardinals, but tight end Leonard Pope (knee) and defensive end Travis LaBoy (ankle) were on the active roster.
Carolina returned three starting linemen from regular-season injuries, with defensive tackles Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis and right offensive tackle Jeff Otah all active.
Right guard Geoff Hangartner also was active after being limited in practice with a left ankle injury. He had been splitting time with Jeremy Bridges at the position since Keydrick Vincent's season was ended by a groin injury last month. Bridges received the start.
Kemoeatu left in the second half of Carolina's Dec. 14 victory over the Denver Broncos and missed the next two games, leaving the Panthers without their top run-stuffer. That helped the New York Giants rush for 301 yards in an overtime victory that prevented the Panthers from securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Lewis injured his shoulder in the second half of the Dec. 21 game against the Giants and missed the regular-season finale at New Orleans.
Kemoeatu, Lewis and Otah practiced all week. Otah left the New Orleans game with a toe injury.
D.J. Hackett was a healthy scratch for Carolina, leaving Dwayne Jarrett as the Panthers' No. 3 receiver.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press