Receiver breaks leg, out indefinitely

Updated: September 14, 2004, 2:31 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith broke his left leg in the fourth quarter of the Panthers' loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

Smith was injured when he was tackled by Hannibal Navies after a short catch with 4:52 to play in Carolina's 24-14 loss. Navies fell on Smith's leg while he pulled the receiver down from behind near the Carolina sideline.

Steve Smith
APTrainers attend to Steve Smith, who broke his leg. It isn't yet known how long he'll be out.

Smith dropped writhing to the ground with a broken fibula, and was helped off the field by team personnel. It's unclear how long Smith -- who signed a $27.5 million contract extension during the offseason -- will be out.

"I knew immediately something was wrong," Smith said, standing with crutches in the locker room after the game. "I might cry a little. But what are you going to do? Last year we didn't have hardly any injuries and this year I am the first victim."

The injury is a big loss for the Panthers' offense. Smith, who had six catches for 60 yards Monday, gave Carolina a deep threat to complement the Panthers' run-oriented attack.

"It definitely hurts," wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "You'd be a fool to deny that. Steve's our home-run hitter. He's a big-play guy."

Smith led the Panthers with career highs of 88 catches, 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns last season, helping the team reach its first Super Bowl. He had 404 yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs, including the game-winning 69-yard TD catch in a double-overtime win against St. Louis.

Smith's injury could mean more catches for 36-year-old Ricky Proehl and rookie Keary Colbert, a second-round draft pick out of Southern California.

"We're going to have to keep on pushing," Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said. "But that's going to be a big void for us that we're going to have to fill in. Everybody else is going to have to pick up that slack."