Inside the Panthers

Why Panthers LB Luke Kuechly won’t be going to the Pro Bowl

Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was a draft target of the Cincinnati Bengals, his hometown team. But they picked at No. 17, while the Panthers, who also wanted Kuechly, picked at No. 9. The Panthers face the Bengals Sunday at 1 p.m.
Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was a draft target of the Cincinnati Bengals, his hometown team. But they picked at No. 17, while the Panthers, who also wanted Kuechly, picked at No. 9. The Panthers face the Bengals Sunday at 1 p.m. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was stumping for a couple of teammates for Pro Bowl consideration last month after the teams were announced.

It turns out Kuechly won’t be in Orlando to join them.

Kuechly was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in December, but will miss the all-star game for the third consecutive season. The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that Deion Jones was going to his first Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Kuechly.

Team sources said the unspecified injury for Kuechly is not considered serious.

Kuechly played in 15 of 16 regular-season games after sitting out a total of nine games because of concussions in 2015 and 2016. He was sidelined for a Week 7 loss at Chicago while in the concussion protocol this past season, but was cleared the following week.

Kuechly showed up on the injury report only one other time: He was a full participant with a shoulder injury during three practices leading to a Dec. 17 win against Green Bay.

The NFL last year moved the Pro Bowl from Honolulu to Orlando, which isn’t as big a draw for players and their families as a week in Hawaii.

Without Kuechly, the Panthers still will have at least two players in the game: Kicker Graham Gano and right guard Trai Turner were selected as injury replacements.

And they could have a third Pro Bowler. Outside linebacker Thomas Davis, who is a first alternate, would be the apparent fill-in for Minnesota’s Anthony Barr if the Vikings make the Super Bowl.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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