Less than three weeks after spraining his ankle, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith practiced Wednesday and is expected to play this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers.
"I love to play, but I have to be healthy," Smith said, according to the team's official website. "I feel like I'm healthy. I'm out of the boot and I don't have much pain so I'm able to move around. So I feel good."
Smith, who missed time in the preseason with a broken arm, was injured during the second half of the Panthers' 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. He had 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns before being hurt -- still the only two touchdowns tallied by the receiving corps.
"It's nice to have him back," Panthers center Ryan Kalil said. "He's a big-time playmaker for us, and it obviously hurts all aspects of our game -– including the run -– when someone like Steve isn't out there."
Quarterback Matt Moore, benched after six turnovers in the first two games, will start for the winless Panthers.
"We're 0-5, so there aren't a lot of guys making plays," Smith said. "We've got to change that up, for everybody."