Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith is poised to make his first playoff appearance in five years.
Smith sprained his PCL in a Week 16 win over the New Orleans Saints and missed the Panthers' regular season finale against the Atlanta Falcons. It was unclear whether the veteran receiver would be ready for the divisional playoff round, but Smith posted on his official Instagram account that he's running without pain for the first time.
The Panthers will host the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of their Week 10 matchup in which Carolina won, 10-9. Things could be very different in the playoffs with Colin Kaepernick having Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis to throw to, both of whom were absent in the earlier loss to the Panthers.
Cam Newton has struggled without Smith, throwing for just 330 yards in two games, while adding two touchdowns and an interception. Without their top receiver the Panthers offense is forced to lean on Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, who have shown unreliable hands in 2013.