Steve Smith Says Panthers are Playoff Bound in 2012; Gross Says a Super Bowl Coming

Wide receiver Steve Smith guaranteed the Panthers would be in the playoffs next season when he left Bank of America Stadium on last Monday following exit interviews.

Offensive tackle Jordan Gross said the team will win a Super Bowl under coach Ron Rivera.

Clearly optimism is high in Carolina, even after a 6-10 finish and a 45-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints in season finale at the Superdome. The Panthers made big strides in 2011 considering they went 2-14 the year before under lame duck coach John Fox.

Rivera said he’ll remind his team of their loss to the Saints in the season finale.

“You better believe it’s going to be used,” Rivera said. “New Orleans showed us what a playoff-caliber football team should look like. We’ve watched the tape, and the players will get a chance to watch it. I think it’s important that we realize that we played against a playoff team, and they showed us what it takes.”

The Panthers led in 14 of 16 games this season, but struggled all year with closing the deal.


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