HC Ron Rivera said Steve Smith (knee) will not participate in practice this week in hopes of getting him ready for next week's game. Having a first round bye will give Smith's sprained knee much needed rest and give him a chance to join the team in the divisional round.
The Panthers will host Green Bay, Philadelphia or San Fransisco next week in the divisional round. While Green Bay and and Philadelphia are more forgiving to the passing game than San Fransisco, the Panthers have struggled getting the ball to receivers when Smith is out. Smith missed last week's game in Atlanta, and wide receivers caught just 4 balls for 22 yards.
That being said, Smith is on target to play and will be relied upon by Cam Newton to take pressure off of the running game.