Inside the Panthers

Now we know why Panthers LB Luke Kuechly didn’t play in Pro Bowl

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, a league source told the Observer.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, a league source told the Observer. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Now we know why Luke Kuechly didn’t play in the Pro Bowl.

The Carolina Panthers middle linebacker is recovering from shoulder surgery, a league source told the Observer on Monday.

Kuechly recently underwent a procedure on his right shoulder, according to sources. He had surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder two years ago after the 2015 Super Bowl season.

Kuechly, who won the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award on Feb. 3 in Minneapolis, skipped last month’s Pro Bowl because of an unspecified injury. He was replaced by the Atlanta Falcons’ Deion Jones.

Kuechly played in 15 of 16 regular-season games in 2017, missing a Week 7 loss at Chicago while in the concussion protocol.

Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly praises the defensive line in win over Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017.

But his shoulder issue popped up on the injury report late in the season. He was listed as a full participant with a shoulder injury during the three practices before a Dec. 17 victory over Green Bay.

Kuechly played every defensive rep against the Packers, and didn’t miss a defensive snap the rest of the season.

Kuechly became the first player in Panthers history to record at least 100 tackles – based on coaches’ film review – in each of his first six seasons.

Kuechly, 26, is the second defensive starter to undergo shoulder surgery in recent days.

Defensive end Julius Peppers had a labrum repair on his right shoulder last week, posting a picture on his Instagram after the surgery and writing that “everything went smooth” and he was recovering well.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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