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Smith probable for Saints rematch

Posted Dec 20, 2013

CHARLOTTE – A reporter asked head coach Ron Rivera on Friday if wide receiver Steve Smith's injured finger would be healed enough come Sunday for Smith to snag a bullet over the middle.

"He's got nine other ones. That's the way I look at it," Rivera said. "Steve will find a way, believe me."

Smith, who suffered a dislocated finger late in practice Wednesday and didn't practice Thursday, returned on a limited basis Friday and is probable for Sunday's showdown with the New Orleans Saints.

"We'll see, but I feel good about him," Rivera said.

If Smith, whose 63 receptions are tied for the team lead with tight end Greg Olsen, wasn't fit to play, Rivera said he'd still have confidence in the group. Smith posted six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in the teams' first meeting two weeks ago.

"I think we can be pretty good, but we're better with him, obviously," Rivera said. "Domenik Hixon can do some really nice things for us, and we've got two young guys that we'd really like to see at some point in (Marvin) McNutt and (Tavarres) King."

Running back Jonathan Stewart, who reeled off back-to-back plays of 16 yards before suffering a knee injury in the first matchup with the Saints, will miss his second consecutive game.

Otherwise, the Panthers are healthy following a strong week of practice.

"They've been good," Rivera said. "There were some really good things happening out there. The guys are excited about what's coming up on Sunday, and I'm fired up for everybody."