Inside the Panthers

Ron Rivera: Panthers won’t take players with extended injuries on West Coast trip

Luke Kuechly (59) sat out Wednesday’s Carolina Panthers practice while going through the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Luke Kuechly (59) sat out Wednesday’s Carolina Panthers practice while going through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Getty Images

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and his team are preparing for a 10-day, two-game trip to the West Coast, but some players will be left behind.

“Guys that are extended injuries will stay,” said Rivera on Wednesday. “Guys that aren’t, that we’re anticipating some sort of return, we will bring along.

“I’ll get a good list probably soon from (team doctor) Ryan Vermillion as to who is gonna go and who is gonna stay.”

Rivera did not say who he thought might be on that list to stay in Charlotte. Still to be determined is linebacker Luke Kuechly’s progress in the concussion protocol, on which Rivera repeated he didn’t have an update. Kuechly missed a second consecutive practice on Wednesday after it was confirmed he suffered a concussion last week against New Orleans and had entered the NFL’s protocol.

Linebacker Thomas Davis told reporters on Wednesday that it had “already been said that he’s been ruled out this week, from what I heard,” in regards to Kuechly’s status.

“Usually in this league if you’re in the concussion protocol, you don’t get to play,” he said, adding that he did think Kuechly was on the mend. Rivera said Monday that there was “no timeline” for Kuechly’s recovery as he continues through the protocol.

Rivera did not rule out flying players out mid-week next week if they showed progress.

Center Ryan Kalil also missed a second consecutive practice. He sprained his shoulder in Carolina’s game against the Arizona Cardinals and sat out the next two games while backup Gino Gradkowski started in his place. Kalil returned in time for the game against the Saints but left early in the second half with the same shoulder issue. Gradkowski was limited on Wednesday, but Rivera said he “took all of the reps” he was supposed to take.

Defensive end Mario Addison (foot) missed Wednesday’s practice as well.

Cornerback Leonard Johnson (chest) was at practice, working on the sideline with trainers. He required immediate hospitalization on Thursday night after he was helped off the field.

Finally, left tackle Michael Oher (concussion) and backup lineman Donald Hawkins (illness) were absent from Wednesday’s practice.

Safety Tre Boston (ankle) was limited, and linebacker A.J. Klein and safety Colin Jones participated fully, although Rivera said that they are still in the concussion protocol (participation is a step).

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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