Inside the Panthers

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly taking important step in concussion protocol

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) looks back at quarterback Cam Newton (1). Kuechly has missed one full game while in the NFL’s concussion protocol and is scheduled to see an independent neurologist on Monday.
Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) looks back at quarterback Cam Newton (1). Kuechly has missed one full game while in the NFL’s concussion protocol and is scheduled to see an independent neurologist on Monday. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

There is reason to feel optimistic about the status of Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, who missed Sunday’s game at Chicago after a hit against Philadelphia on Oct. 12 placed him in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

It was the third time in as many years that Kuechly has had to miss time with a concussion.

But Kuechly will be evaluated by an independent consultant on Monday, head coach Ron Rivera confirmed.

“My understanding is that he will see the independent,” said Rivera.

Getting cleared by an independent neurologist marks the final step in the concussion protocol. If cleared, Kuechly could return to practicing fully this week and be ready to play this Sunday in Tampa Bay.

The team must also clear Kuechly for him to participate fully. Last season, Kuechly was held out by the Panthers staff for three additional games after being cleared from the protocol out of concern for his long-term health.

Rivera added that he did not yet have any updates on the status of veteran center Ryan Kalil, who appeared to re-aggravate a neck injury and had to leave Sunday’s game after 15 plays (Carolina’s first three series), or guard Trai Turner, who had to leave the game late with a knee injury.

Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said Monday that he is still day to day as he recovers from a sprained MCL.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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