Inside the Panthers

Panthers’ Luke Kuechly back at practice

Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly participated in non-contact position drills Wednesday, his most extensive action since sustaining a concussion in the season opener at Jacksonville on Sept. 13.

Kuechly was not in pads and did not have on a helmet. But he ran to each of the drill stations and hit a blocking sled while Panthers coach Ron Rivera looked on.

Kuechly has been in the concussion protocol since leaving the Jaguars game before halftime following an awkward, head-first hit on running back T.J. Yeldon.

He will have to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can play Sunday against New Orleans.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery was among five players who missed Wednesday's practice due to injury. Cotchery has a high ankle sprain and was not spotted on the practice field during the 20 minutes open to the media.

The other four injured players worked on the side with a strength coach: defensive end Charles Johnson, defensive tackle Kyle Love, running back Jonathan Stewart and right guard Trai Turner.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson