Another Carolina Panthers linebacker will miss a game because of a concussion.
While Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly has returned from the concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game at Seattle, the player who replaced him now is out.
A.J. Klein will miss the game against the Seahawks after an independent neurologist failed to clear him Thursday, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday. Klein, defensive end Jared Allen (pinched nerve) and rookie offensive tackle Daryl Williams (knee) are all listed as out on the injury report.
Klein was the biggest surprise. The former fifth-round pick from Iowa State played all 79 defensive snaps in the Panthers’ 37-23 win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 4.
But Klein experienced headaches during the bye week that he believed were the result of an illness. The Panthers put him in the protocol and he practiced on a limited basis this week.
Klein said Thursday he would defer to the “experts,” at least one of whom determined he wasn’t ready to play.
As for Kuechly, Rivera said he’s not worried about Kuechly suffering any setbacks in his first game action in more than a month. Rivera said any concerns he had were alleviated during Tuesday’s full-pads practice.
“He had to come downhill one time and pop it. He was fine,” Rivera said. “Now, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. But you never know. It could happen to somebody else on the first play of the game.”
Rivera hopes to give Kuechly some plays off Sunday “just to be smart.” He said backup linebacker and special teams regular Ben Jacobs likely would fill in for Kuechly.
Jacobs says he’ll be ready if called upon, but he’s expecting Kuechly to be his usual, tackle-collecting self.
“I know Luke and I don’t expect anything but Luke’s best. I know Luke’s going to go out there and be an animal and just tear it up,” Jacobs said. “In my mind I’m just there in case something happens. I know Luke’s going to go out there and be Luke.”