NFL

Panthers without Smith, Stewart in critical NFC South game against Falcons

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ATLANTA (AP)

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The Carolina Panthers are without Steve Smith, the team's second-leading receiver, and running back Jonathan Stewart as they attempt to clinch the NFC South title against Atlanta.

Smith sprained his left knee during Carolina's 17-13 win over New Orleans last week. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday he expects Smith to be ready for the playoffs. Wide receiver Marvin McNutt is active for the first time this season.

Stewart also has a knee injury.

Carolina defensive tackle Colin Cole (calf) is inactive. Backup safety Robert Lester (ankle) is active. Quarterback Cam Newton (ankle) is starting.

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and running back Jacquizz Rodgers (concussion) are inactive. Offensive guard Garrett Reynolds, who has started 10 games, is healthy but inactive.

Tagged: Falcons, Panthers, Steve Smith Sr.

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