Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday that wide receiver Steve Smith is "highly doubtful" to play in the regular-season finale against the Atlanta Falcons due to a sprained left knee.
Smith is considered week to week with a sprained PCL. He was injured during the Panthers' 17-13 win over the New Orleans on Sunday.
"It's very optimistic as we go forward," Rivera said.
The Panthers (11-4) will win the NFC South with a win over the Falcons on Sunday and get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
That scenario would give Smith three weeks of rest before the divisional round of the playoffs at home.
Rivera said Ted Ginn Jr. will probably take Smith's spot, and mix in Hixon.
"It's time for other guys to step up, and they're ready," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said.
For the season, Smith has 64 catches for 745 yards with four touchdowns.
The last game Smith missed was the last regular-season game in 2010 due to a strained calf.