Two days after promising he'd be ready to play this weekend, Steve Smith is back in pads for the Panthers.
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Carolina's top wide receiver was suited up with helmet in hand for Wednesday's practice, a good sign he'll be ready for Sunday's Divisional Round Weekend showdown with the San Francisco 49ers, the team announced.
Smith hasn't played since spraining his PCL in Week 16, forcing Carolina to lean on Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn in a passing attack that netted just 149 yards in a Week 17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
According to The Charlotte Observer, Smith sarcastically said his knee was "71 percent" healthy as his reps were limited. Smith has been running and cutting since earlier in the week, and we expect him to be out there against a 49ers defense allowing a league-low 14.9 points per game since Week 4.
Also for the Panthers, running back Jonathan Stewart practiced Wednesday for the first time since tearing his MCL in Week 14. The team has employed a cautious approach with his return in hopes that Stewart will be ready for Carolina's most important game in years.
"It felt good, like I am definitely getting back in the groove again," Stewart told The Observer. "I felt pretty good."
On the defensive side of the ball, Carolina pass rusher Greg Hardy, who missed Monday's session with bronchial asthma, was back at practice.
Here's the rest of Wednesday's injury roundup:
- Indianapolis Colts safety LaRon Landry has been cleared to practice after suffering a concussion Saturday against the Chiefs, per The Tribune-Star. We won't know until later if he's been cleared to play this weekend against the Patriots. The team's official website reported that wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) did not practice.
- For the New England Patriots, wide receiver Aaron Dobson was seen moving through the team's locker room with a protective boot on his left foot, according to ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss. Dobson didn't practice and we don't expect him to play against the Colts. Fellow rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (hip), running back Shane Vereen (groin), cornerback Devin McCourty (concussion) and guard Logan Mankins (ankle) were all limited, per The Boston Globe.
- Ahead of Denver's Divisional Round Weekend clash with the San Diego Chargers, the Broncos had a full house at practice. The nonparticipants were safety Rahim Moore and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, who has practiced just twice since suffering seizure-like symptoms in late November. Moore hasn't practiced since Denver placed him on short-term injured reserve two months ago.
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- The Chargers announced that they held running back Ryan Mathews (ankle), offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle) and center Nick Hardwick (neck, concussion) out of practice, while safety Eric Weddle (hamstring) was limited.
- Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin was a full participant in practice ahead of the team's Saturday matchup in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints. Prior to the session, quarterback Russell Wilson told The Seattle Times that "(Harvin) looks unbelievable so far." Linebacker K.J. Wright (foot) and safety Kam Chancellor (hip) did not practice for the 'Hawks.
- San Francisco cornerback Carlos Rogers (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, per the team's official website. Rogers was listed as questionable and did not play in the 49ers' Wild Card Weekend victory over the Green Bay Packers.
- Running back Pierre Thomas (chest) did not practice for the Saints, per the team's official website. Thomas missed the Saints' Wild Card Weekend triumph over the Philadelphia Eagles.
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