Panthers' Smith highly doubtful for Week 17 with PCL sprain

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Charlotte, NC ( - The Carolina Panthers can breathe a sigh of relief.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera announced Monday that wide receiver Steve Smith didn't tear his ACL in Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. Rivera said that Smith has a PCL sprain and will be treated week-to-week.

The bad news for Carolina is that Smith's injured left knee will most likely keep him out of the team's regular-season finale against the Falcons.

Smith sustained the injury while failing to come down with a catch on the Panthers' second drive of the day. The 13-year veteran briefly returned in the second quarter, but left after only one play and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest shortly afterward.

The 34-year-old Smith has 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games this season.

Rivera said that Ted Ginn Jr. will likely take Smith's spot versus Atlanta. Domenik Hixon, who caught the winning TD pass Sunday, will serve as the No. 3 receiver.

The Panthers took over sole possession of first place in the NFC South with Sunday's 17-13 victory over the Saints. Carolina needs to win in Atlanta to claim the NFC South title and a bye in the first round in the playoffs.