David Newton | ESPN.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith downgraded himself Thursday, saying his return from a sprained left knee didn’t go as well as he had hoped in his second practice back from the injury.
“Seventy-one [percent] yesterday,” Smith said. “I think I overdid it. Fifty-seven [percent] today. Just went down.”
Asked if he considered it a setback, the team’s all-time leading receiver said, “If we’re on a curve, no. If we’re on a curving grading system, there is no setback. If there’s no curve, then it’s a setback.”
Smith sprained the knee in a Dec. 22 game against New Orleans. He did not play in the regular-season finale at Atlanta.
On Monday, he said he would play in Sunday’s NFC playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t indicate that stance had changed.
Smith, who had 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns this season, said there has been no swelling in the knee.
“Just didn’t go as well as I thought,” he said. “It will be all right. A little treatment. I did everything. I just probably overdid it.”
Coach Ron Rivera obviously had been coached by Smith when asked how his leading receiver did in practice.
“Fifty-seven percent,” Rivera said. “That’s what he told me. But he looked good. He moved around pretty well. He’s not his normal self yet, but he was out there. He did things he was supposed to do. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He came in and felt a little sore.”
Rivera didn’t sound overly concerned.
“When you watch Steve and watch the way he does things, there’s a smoothness to his movements and stuff, and it’s not quite there yet,” he said. “It’ll be work, and it’s just a matter of time.”
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