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.
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
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.
"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."