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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) _ Carolina Panthers wide receiver Patrick Jeffers underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday and will miss at least three weeks of practice.

Doctors removed a flap of cartilage from his right knee. The surgery could sideline Jeffers for the opener against Minnesota on Sept. 9.

Jeffers missed all of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in the right knee during a preseason game in Pittsburgh. He is also having problems with swelling in his left knee,

``It's obviously unfortunate because Pat is such a meaningful player and to have this setback, but unfortunately, this is part of the process,'' Panthers coach George Seifert said.

After seeing limited action during his first two seasons, Jeffers tied a team record with 12 touchdowns while surpassing the 1,000-yard mark in 1999. He had eight TDs of 30 yards or more.

Seifert said he hopes Jeffers can return to practice later this summer and possibly be ready for the season opener.

``I would say right now I'm optimistic. I haven't heard anything to suggest otherwise,'' Seifert said. ``But he will have missed a lot of work and obviously he didn't play last year, so he'll still need to get himself into playing form.''

If Jeffers isn't ready to go, Donald Hayes is expected to start at wide receiver along with 1999 Pro Bowler Muhsin Muhammad.