Panthers: How long will Luke Kuechly be out?


The Carolina Panthers have a lot going for them early in the 2015 NFL season. Through three games they are undefeated and tied at the top of their division, their star cornerback Josh Norman just won the NFC defensive player of the month award, and Cam Newton is starting to get some MVP buzz.

One dark cloud that is lingering over the team though is the status of superstar middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who went down with a concussion in the first game of the year that looked pretty scary.

Carolina is taking an understandably conservative approach with Kuechly, who just signed a massive six-year contract extension that made him the richest linebacker in NFL history. Still, I’m starting to wonder how long they will have to play without him.

According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Kuechly was again absent from Panthers practice today:

Since he’s not practicing this late in the week we can safely assume that Kuechly is not going to suit up for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That will make it three consecutive games that Kuechly misses.

As you can imagine, Panthers fans are beginning to get nervous about the severity of his injury:

It’s possible that Kuechly is dealing with more than just a concussion. Based on the way he made contact there’s a chance that he is experiencing neck and back issues as well.

David Newton of ESPN provided an update this morning which raised more questions than it answered:

“Kuechly remains in the concussion protocol where he has been since suffering a head injury late in the first half of the Sept. 13 opener at Jacksonville… Coach Ron Rivera would not elaborate on where Kuechly is in the protocol.”

While it’s frustrating to sit one of the most talented defensive players in football, Panthers fans should try to remain patient.

A.J. Klein has played well in Luke Kuechly’s place and the Buccaneers shouldn’t represent a serious challenge for Carolina. That means Kuechly can get an extra two weeks of recovery in with the bye coming before the Seahawks game.

For now there’s no reason to panic, but if Kuechly is unable to go against Seattle then we’ll know it’s really serious.

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