Inside the Panthers

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly could participate in non-contact drills Wednesday

Carolina Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion, left, walks with linebacker Luke Kuechly, right, to practice on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Kuechly suffered a concussion in the team's season opener on Sunday vs the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Carolina Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion, left, walks with linebacker Luke Kuechly, right, to practice on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Kuechly suffered a concussion in the team's season opener on Sunday vs the Jacksonville Jaguars. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Panthers coach Ron Rivera expects middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to participate in non-contact drills at Wednesday’s practice, but said Kuechly still needs to be cleared by an independent neurologist.

Kuechly missed his first NFL game Sunday after sustaining a concussion in Week 1. He has yet to visit the independent doctor, which is the final step in the league’s concussion protocol.

Kuechly did not practice last week. He was at the stadium, but not on the sideline for Sunday’s win against Houston.

Rivera said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery sustained a high-ankle sprain against the Texans. That’s an injury that often requires a four- to six-week recovery period.

But Rivera said the Panthers hope the fact Cotchery was able to return to the game -- he later left for good -- is a sign he could be available for this week’s game against New Orleans.

Cotchery played 11 snaps against the Texans.

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