It was a small thing, but a positive step for linebacker Luke Kuechly.
As his position group maneuvered through drills at practice on Thursday, they reached the sled and took turns jamming it. On Wednesday, Kuechly avoided this particular drill. It was his first day back (albeit limited) in practice as he progresses through the concussion protocol after last month’s scary collision in prime time against the Saints.
But Thursday, he fell into step for reps on the hit sled with his teammates.
“You know, it definitely gets us excited that he’s back on the field moving around,” said veteran linebacker Thomas Davis. “He’s feeling good at this point.”
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Kuechly has been unavailable for comment as he has made his return to the practice field, but on Thursday head coach Ron Rivera said that he and safety Kurt Coleman and corner Daryl Worley, also in the concussion protocol, have taken “positive steps forward.”
“So far, so good,” said Rivera. “And again, (they’ll) just continue in the protocol until they’re released. But that was a positive step.”
Kuechly has missed two games while in the protocol, and Coleman has missed one. It is Worley’s second time in the concussion protocol this season.
Defensive end Mario Addison was limited in practice after suffering a foot injury and not making the team’s recent 11-day, two-game West Coast trip. Rivera said he thinks it’s “realistic” to think Addison will play on Sunday at home against the San Diego Chargers.
“He had a good day today,” said Rivera. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow morning with that foot and go from there. ... Just watching him, they had him pushing some stuff later that afternoon and he looked pretty good with it. Hopefully there won’t be any residuals. He may get some practice work tomorrow.”
Rivera added that if either Addison or Charles Johnson (hamstring), or both, can’t go, the team has worked out some interior linemen on the end – with Kawann Short being an ideal candidate to make the switch.
Linebacker David Mayo remains in the concussion protocol, and running back Jonathan Stewart was a full participant in Thursday’s practice after taking a day of rest on Wednesday. Tackle Daryl Williams (high ankle sprain) did not participate in practice.