"There is an 89 percent chance that I play Sunday," Smith said.
Smith, who has worn No. 89 throughout his illustrious career with the Panthers, is listed as questionable for Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoff against the San Francisco 49ers. Smith said he ran about five routes Friday before calling it a day in rainy conditions.
"Until we shut him down because of the rain, he was moving around pretty good," head coach Ron Rivera said. "My gut says he's going to play, but it's about how he feels."
Smith missed the regular season finale after suffering a posterior cruciate ligament sprain in a Week 16 victory over the New Orleans Saints. His importance to the offense is undeniable, but so is the need for others to perform at the highest level regardless of Smith's status.
"There are a whole bunch of other positions that have to step up and make plays," Rivera said. "You'd like to see Brandon (LaFell) make a few more plays. The last couple of weeks he's struggled, and he knows it.
One of those backs,
Panthers players – be them healthy or healing – are counting down the minutes to Sunday's kickoff.
"It's exciting," Rivera said. "After you have a week off, you can't wait to get back and get going again.
"We know what to expect. We expect this to be a tough, physical football game. We're excited about it."