Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Notes: Smith, Stewart questionable


CHARLOTTE – Wide receiver Steve Smith (knee) and running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) are both listed as questionable for Sunday's home opener against the Saints. Smith and Stewart were limited in practice on Friday.

"Based on what we want to do and how we want to do things, we need those playmakers out there for us," head coach Ron Rivera said.

Defensive end Greg Hardy (illness), center Jeff Byers (knee) and linebacker Kenny Onatolu (personal reasons) are listed as probable. Hardy and Byers participated in full on Friday.

Guard Mike Pollak, who sustained a shoulder stinger in practice Thursday, did not participate and is doubtful.

WEEK 2 JUMP: Rivera knows from firsthand experience what rookies encounter when they take the field for the first time in the regular season.

"I remember my first opportunity. We were playing Seattle and Franco Harris had just been traded there, and all of the sudden it's like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Rivera said. "When you finally get a chance to make a play, things slow down. Those first few -- from personal experience -- you're going, 'Are you kidding me?'"

Rivera noticed similar reactions from his rookies in Week 1.

"Amini (Silatolu) had a little bit of that. Luke (Kuechly) was so jazzed up he ran by two plays. Josh (Norman) was a little tentative. Frank (Alexander) was a little slow off the ball initially," Rivera said. "Each guy handles each situation a little bit differently, but now the newness is gone and I expect them to hit the ground running."

"That's what I've tried to tell our guys – the newness is over. Let's go forward."

SNAP DECISIONS: The Oakland Raiders lived through a nightmare in their season opener when their long snapper had to leave the game with a concussion.

The Panthers feel like they would be able to avoid a similar headache.

"I know of two guys that can back me up who are very good, so I would feel very comfortable leaving it in their hands to get us through the game," Panthers long snapper JJ Jansen said. "It's people who take it seriously and appreciate the skill."

After Raiders long snapper Jon Condo left the game, they turned to linebacker Travis Goethel, who scooted two ground balls that allowed San Diego to swallow up the punter before he could gain control. On another occasion, the Chargers blocked a punt.

"It shows you just how important that position is. Some people take it for granted," said Rivera, who did some long-snapping in his playing days. "It's a very hard position, you have so many things that you are responsible for."

Jansen, who has handled more than 400 snaps for the Panthers over the past three-plus seasons with just one notable mistake, said he's never really been close to having to leave the game because of an injury since joining the team.

"And if there was any chance I could keep snapping after I got hurt, I would do it," Jansen said. "Nick Sundberg in Washington broke him his arm in the second half last week and finished the game. It would take something where I just couldn't snap for me to not go out there."

Senior writer Bryan Strickland contributed to this report.

Related Content