Panthers WR Smith out Sunday against Falcons

Dec. 27, 2013 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera says wide receiver Steve Smith will not play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Smith sprained his left knee during Carolina's 17-13 win over New Orleans last Sunday.

The win assured the Panthers a playoff spot, but Carolina (11-4) can wrap up the NFC South division title and a first-round bye by beating the Falcons.

Rivera says Smith told him he feels like he could play, but the team doesn't think that's a good idea with the playoffs coming. Rivera says he expects Smith would be able to play next week if necessary.

Ted Ginn Jr. will start at wide receiver for Smith. Domenik Hixon will see increased action.

Running back Jonathan Stewart and defensive tackle Colin Cole are also listed as out for the Panthers.

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