CHARLOTTE — Ron Rivera is hopeful that, barring any setbacks on the Carolina Panthers’ off day today, two of his star players will be ready for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
Wide receiver Steve Smith and running back Jonathan Stewart are listed as questionable for Sunday. Smith is nursing a knee injury that occurred on a hard hit against Tampa Bay last week while Stewart is overcoming an ankle sprain. Both participated fully in practice Friday.
Stewart sat out the season opener as the Panthers tied a franchise low with 10 rushing yards. Though his coach saw apprehension in Stewart when he cut during practice earlier in the week, Rivera said that wariness has subsided.
Rivera was less encouraged about the status of Mike Pollack. The guard is listed as doubtful with a shoulder stinger.
Defensive end Greg Hardy is also listed as probable after suffering a stomach bug that Rivera said had afflicted a few of the players. Center/guard Jeff Byers is also listed as probable.
The Bengals suffered a major blow to their defense when linebacker Thomas Howard was placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL during practice on Thursday. ... Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (concussion) was ruled out Friday for the game at Pittsburgh. ... Cardinals quarterback John Skelton (sprained right ankle) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game at New England, but coach Ken Whisenhunt is refusing to rule him out altogether. ... Lions cornerback Bill Bentley (concussion) has been ruled out of Sunday night’s game at San Francisco. ... Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas (concussion) has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. ... Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon (sore right foot) will be a game-time decision against the St. Louis Rams.
Texans defensive end Antonio Smith says he’s been fined $21,000 by the league for kicking Miami guard Richie Incognito during last week’s win over the Dolphins. ... Safeties Madieu Williams of Washington, Taylor Mays of Cincinnati and Rahim Moore of Denver have been fined $21,000 each by the NFL for unnecessary roughness in Week 1. Williams and Mays made helmet-to-helmet contact with opposing players. Rahim unnecessarily struck defenseless Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the head and neck area. Drawing $15,750 fines were Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen for helmet-to-helmet contact with Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and Dallas tackle Tyron Smith for a horse collar tackle. Vikings DT Letroy Guion was fined $7,875 for roughing Gabbert. Chiefs running back Shaun Draughn was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness against Atlanta, while Dolphins center Mike Pouncey drew the same.