Steve Smith, the all-time leader in the long and storied 19-season history of the Carolina Panthers in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, says he will play Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers visit for an NFC Divisional Playoff game.
Smith sprained his left knee during a Week 16 win over New Orleans and did not play in the season finale at Atlanta.
The Panthers had last week off after earning a first-round bye.
“It’s not about ‘can I go,’” Smith told the Associated Press. “It’s about how confident do I feel when I am going. I will play Sunday. But it’s about how much I don’t worry about the knee—and that’s when the confidence increases.”
Smith, 34, tops the Panthers’ all-time list with 836 receptions, 12,197 receiving yards and 75 total touchdowns.
Smith has spent his entire career in Carolina after being taken by the Panthers in the third round of the 2001 draft out of Utah. He is a five-time Pro Bowler and was All-Pro in both 2001 as a kick returner and in 2005 as a receiver.
This season, Smith caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games. He had six receptions for 63 yards in the Panthers’ 10-9 win over the 49ers at Candlestick Park on Nov. 10 and has 18 receptions for 177 yards and no touchdowns in five career games against San Francisco.