3 ways Luke Kuechly’s retirement will impact the Panthers

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly /
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Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly /

Carolina Panthers Impact No. 1: Tackling

It is hard not to look back on Luke Kuechly’s career with fondness regarding his ability to always be around the ball. He was a sideline to sideline linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. And he played the game with ruthless aggression that made him an instant hit with the team’s fanbase.

Players with this sort of talent and ability are hard to find. Kuechly was the complete player thanks to the perfect combination of size, burst, and supreme football instincts. This is something that the Panthers are going to miss considerably during the season.

Carolina did bring in Tahir Whitehead on a one-year, $2.5 million deal in free agency. And he was a more than capable starter with the Las Vegas Raiders over the last two years. The player himself knows what a daunting task it will be to follow in Kuechly’s footsteps. But he is keen to just focus on his own game and let the rest take care of itself.

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"“At the end of the day, Luke is Luke and I’m me. He plays the game differently than I do and vice versa. So I just have to go out there and make sure that I can execute my ability and my job within the scheme. So making sure that I’m a good presence in the locker room, a good presence in the linebacker room, and making sure that I’m leading by example and not doing all of the rah-rah stuff. That’s just it.”"

Kuechly stats speak for themselves and are a further reflection of just how special a player he was. Some of his more eye-catching figures include 1,092 combined tackles, 690 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks, 75 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles.

Whitehead is a competent tackler who has amassed 463 solo tackles over the same period. But it remains to be seen whether or not he can bring the same sort of energy as his exceptional predecessor.