New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. Sunday, FOX

Coach on Steve Smith’s finger injury: ‘He’s got nine other ones’

jperson@charlotteobserver.comDecember 20, 2013 

Carolina Panthers 2013 Football Headshots

Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints with a finger injury.


Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is listed as probable for Sunday’s NFC South clash with New Orleans.

What’s less certain is how Smith will fare catching passes just a few days after dislocating the middle finger on his left hand.

“He’s got nine other ones. That’s the way I look at it,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday. “Steve will find a way, believe me. But you never know.”

Smith was limited in Friday’s practice after sitting out Thursday.

He caught several soft passes from receivers coach Ricky Proehl on the sideline during the portion of practice open to the media. Smith later caught a throw from Cam Newton, a lob at the end of a drill, before the team broke for stretching.

Smith was injured near the end of Wednesday’s practice when a tipped Newton pass struck the tip of his finger, dislocating it. Smith had the finger bandaged Thursday, but wasn’t sure whether trainers would splint it for Sunday’s game.

Smith, 34, is tied with tight end Greg Olsen for the team lead with 63 receptions. Though Smith’s 11.1 yards-per-catch average is 5 yards off his mark (16.1) from last season, he remains one of Newton’s favorite targets, particularly on third down.

Smith is tied for 16th in the league with 21 third-down receptions, including 18 that resulted in first downs.

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