Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was not at practice on Monday, and coach Ron Rivera said afterward that there isn’t a timetable for his return from a concussion suffered Thursday night.
Kuechly is in the concussion protocol, Rivera said, reiterating what he said on Friday. Kuechly had a frightening collision during Thursday night’s matchup against the Saints, and was carted off the field in tears after the legal hit.
“He’s in the protocol,” reiterated Rivera on Monday afternoon. “I honestly can’t (tell you more). ... And for me to say anything other than that would be unfair. I’m not the health professional in this situation.
“The other thing too, that I want to make sure everybody understands, is that there is no timetable.”
Rivera said Kuechly would continue through the protocol steps. No rush, said teammate Kurt Coleman, who voiced his concern for Kuechly on a personal level.
“Whatever that due process is, I know they’re going to do what’s in his best interest,” said Coleman. “And ultimately that’s all I care about is Luke the person, not Luke the player. That’s really all I care about in this time because I want him to be as healthy as he can. Not just playing for us, but in his later career.”
Linebacker A.J. Klein (concussion) was back at practice on Monday, although he’s still in the protocol and has missed one game so far. Klein’s presence at practice was a step in the protocol process.
But linebacker Shaq Thompson, who returned against the Saints after missing two games with a knee injury, said he and backup David Mayo are preparing for any situation, including missing Kuechly this weekend against Oakland.
“I don’t ask any player to step in and do what Luke does for us. They have to be their own player, be their own personality,” said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. “Whether it’s A.J. or David, I expect them to do just that.”
Thompson may also have to see time in the nickel, said McDermott, in place of corner Leonard Johnson, who is recovering from a chest injury.