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Steve Smith expected to return

Updated: August 29, 2012, 2:24 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he expects five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith will return to practice Sunday and play in the Sept. 9 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rivera says Smith is "improving" after developing a foot infection earlier in the week.

Smith, who didn't practice, is among several key players sitting out Thursday night's preseason finale against the Steelers. Linebacker Jon Beason, offensive tackle Jordan Gross, running back ...

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