NFL Wire News

Panthers Kuechly passes step one of concussion protocol


The Sports Xchange

CHARLOTTE — According to Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, Luke Kuechly “had a good day” on Monday, less than 24 hours after the linebacker suffered a concussion during the Panthers’ season-opening win in Jacksonville.

Kuechly is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Until he passes all the steps, his status for the Week 2 game against the Texans will remain up in the air.

“There are steps to the protocol that he has to go through and every day is a different step,” Rivera said. “Today was to come in and see how he is, and he’s fine. Tomorrow, he’ll go through the next step, which I think is taking the baseline test and then he’ll be examined by the doctor.

“Today, the only thing I was told is that he was OK and he will continue the protocol as each day goes.”

Kuechly was injured shortly before halftime while attempting to make a tackle on running back T.J. Yeldon of the Jaguars. Kuechly, who led with his head, fell, tried to get up and then fell again.

Trainers helped him walk straight to the locker room after the two-time Pro Bowler shouted words of encouragement to his teammates on the field.

Rivera said Kuechly will be in the game plan as the Panthers get ready to host Houston, but six days before the home opener, it’s impossible to tell if he will be in that game.

“I don’t know the severity of it or how you’d grade it,” Rivera said. “The fortunate part is that he was able to get into the locker room on his own and he went through the protocol immediately, and I saw him today and he looked like Luke to me.

“We’re not going to put Luke out there until he’s ready to go. We’re going to go through the protocol the way it’s designed. That’s what we’ve done with all of our players. When each step is clear, then we’ll put him back on the field. Until then, he’s not going to play.”


PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus — Drops were an issue in the preseason and they continued through the first quarter. QB Cam Newton was sacked twice and his 71.3 passer rating was his worst in a Panthers’ win since he had a 60.6 at Miami on Nov. 24, 2013. Because of Carolina’s problems at wide receiver, the Jaguars were able to focus on tight end Greg Olsen. He had only 11 receiving yards, his fewest since he had no receptions in the final two games of 2011.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C — RB Jonathan Stewart gained 22 yards on his first carry but only 34 yards on his next 17 attempts. Stewart and QB Cam Newton combined for all but three carries for a Carolina running game that was largely ineffective until the fourth quarter.

PASS DEFENSE: B — CB Josh Norman began his contract year with a pick-six, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, two passes defensed and five tackles. LB Thomas Davis had the second interception of QB Blake Bortles, who was sacked five times.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus — The Panthers allowed rookie RB T.J. Yeldon to pick up 36 yards on six carries in the first quarter. After that, Yeldon managed only 15 yards on his final six carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Ted Ginn broke off a 37-yard punt return, but the Panthers allowed a 40-yard kickoff return and Graham Gano missed one field goal and had another blocked.

COACHING: B-plus — The Panthers weren’t impressive, but their game plan wasn’t bad. Injuries have sapped some of Carolina’s talent, but head coach Ron Rivera’s team won a game it could have found a way to lose.

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