Carolina Panthers

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly misses Tuesday practice

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) watches practice Tuesday during the first veteran’s day off of his five year career. But he took some ribbing from teammates at Wofford College in Spartanburg.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) watches practice Tuesday during the first veteran’s day off of his five year career. But he took some ribbing from teammates at Wofford College in Spartanburg. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Veteran days off for the Carolina Panthers have become common in the Ron Rivera era as the player-turned-coach takes care of his older guys.

Tuesday, fifth-year linebacker Luke Kuechly got his first-ever veteran day off.

“And boy did he catch hell for it,” Rivera said.

Kuechly was a good sport about taking the day off, which was recommended by head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion. Rivera called Kuechly a willing participant.

“One thing we have to remember is the guy has (the second-most tackles in the NFL) the last four years, so we’ve got to be smart with him,” Rivera said.

Said Kuechly: “I didn’t fight it. I do what I’m told.

Quarterback Cam Newton made sure the linebacker heard plenty of jabs during practice about the time off. On a few occasions he shouted out jokes directed at Kuechly, linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Charles Johnson, all of whom got the day off.

Entering his sixth season, Newton has yet to take – or rather, accept – a veteran day off.

“Every time we try to give him one he shows up ready to practice,” Rivera said. “It’s a little source of pride right now with him. He’s talking about how the Auburn guys are built a little bit different than the Georgia guys.”

Both Davis and Johnson went to Georgia.

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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