Smith's Injury May Halt Progress

WR Steve Smith (Chris Grayten/Getty)

The Panthers' offense made some small strides against New Orleans, but now there's a chance Carolina could be without its most dangerous weapon when it faces Julius Peppers and the Chicago Bears next Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

Steve Smith left the locker room at the Superdome on Sunday with his left foot in an air cast after suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter of Carolina's 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Smith said x-rays revealed the ankle is not fractured, but wouldn't talk about the specifics of the injury. If it's a high sprain, Smith could miss a few weeks, which would be devastating to a passing game that is already one of the worst in the league.

"It's not broken, so that's a good thing," Smith said after the game. "We're just kind of going from there and we'll see how it feels in the morning."

Coach John Fox offered no insight into the severity of Smith's injury or if he'll be ready to face the Bears. The Panthers have a bye week after that, so it's possible Smith could sit out next week and essentially have three weeks to recover from the ankle injury.

Smith, who had two catches for 11 yards, left the game with 3:28 left after making a reception near the Saints' sideline. It appeared two Saints players rolled over his ankle and Smith sat up holding his leg.

He was eventually carted to the locker room and did not return to the game. With Smith out of the game, the Panthers ran with rookies David Gettis and Brandon LaFell as their two starting receivers, while Dwayne Jarrett worked as the No. 3 guy.

"I really don't know what happened," Smith said. "It was one of those plays where things happen. I just know I tried to get up and it was hurting."

Running back DeAngelo Williams said the Panthers will have a tough time if Smith can't play next week.

"It's tough sledding now," Williams said. "Whoever is up next I'm sure they're going to step in and do just as well as Smitty trying to win a football game."

By all accounts, Carolina's two-touchdown effort was an offensive explosion.

"I mean we scored more than seven points today, so that's an improvement from other games," said Smith.

NOTES, QUOTES

LINEUP WATCH: A week ago, Panthers linebacker James Anderson vowed to make the most of big plays after allowing two potential interceptions to slip through his hands.

On Sunday, he made good on that promise.

Anderson had a career afternoon, although it was overshadowed by Carolina's 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He led the team with 12 tackles, recovered two fumbles and caused another and also chipped in with a sack on Drew Brees on the final play of the first half.

"I was just trying to run to the ball," Anderson said. "Richard (Marshall) and Sherrod (Martin) caused some fumbles and I just ran to the ball to get it."

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 - Number of first downs for the Panthers on Sunday.

PLAYER NOTES:

--RB Jimmy Clausen threw his first NFL touchdown pass Sunday, a 55-yard strike to RB Jonathan Stewart.

--WR Steve Smith was limited to two catches for 11 yards.

--LB James Anderson led the team with 12 tackles and was all over the field.

--FS Sherrod Martin suffered a mild concussion against New Orleans.

--RB Mike Goodson had a terrific day returning kickoffs but did injure his shoulder late in the game.



What are Panthers fans saying about Smith's injury? See in the message boards.




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