A pair of Pro Bowl players — middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and center Ryan Kalil — will miss Sunday’s game at Oakland due to injuries.
But both are making the 10-day trip to the West Coast and the team is hopeful they might be available for next week’s game at Seattle.
“We’ll see how each day progresses,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday.
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In addition to Kuechly and Kalil, team sacks leader Mario Addison is out Sunday with a foot injury. Addison did not make the trip to the Bay area, so the edge rusher will miss at least two games.
Kuechly is sidelined after sustaining a scary-looking concussion against New Orleans, his second in as many years. Kuechly, Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, missed three games last season after a Week 1 concussion at Jacksonville.
Kalil missed two games earlier this month with a right shoulder injury, which he aggravated last week against the Saints.
Rivera said having Kuechly and Kalil on the trip is beneficial for two reasons: It means they might play against the Seahawks and they’ll be valuable from the sideline of the Oakland Coliseum.
“And not just the moral support, but what they know as far as the game. They see things as well,” Rivera said. “It’s kind of almost like having almost another set of coaching eyes on the sideline. It’s good to have those type of guys around.”
A.J. Klein, sidelined for the Saints’ game while in the concussion protocol, is expected to start in place of Kuechly.
Veteran Gino Gradkowski, who’s been dealing with a knee injury, will take over Kalil at center, barring any setbacks.
Gradkowski and Klein are among five players listed as questionable. The others are safety Tre Boston (ankle), cornerback Leonard Johnson (chest) and backup safety Colin Jones (concussion).