Kuechly, who finished this season with 102 tackles (71 solo), two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery, will be ready for spring practices after missing six games due to a concussion, ESPN's David Newton reports.
Kuechly was held out of Carolina's final six games after suffering his second concussion in two years in the Panthers' Week 11 contest against the Saints. Prior to then, the All-Pro linebacker averaged over 10 tackles per game, continuing to be a dominant IDP commodity. While his concussion history raises some concern over his long-term outlook, Kuechly will be back in action when the Panthers start spring practices and will look to remain healthy in 2017.
Kuechly (coach's decision) won't take the field Sunday in Tampa Bay.
Despite clearing the final stage of the concussion protocol on Dec. 17, Kuechly hasn't had the ear of head coach Ron Rivera, who has remained steadfast in the decision-making process as it pertains to the All-Pro middle linebacker on game day. Wrapping up his fifth campaign with six consecutive DNPs, Kuechly still managed to reach the century mark in tackles (102, to be exact). Moreover, his playmaking was evident, as he notched six passes defended (including one interception), two sacks, and one forced fumble in 10 contests.
Head coach Ron Rivera (and, by proxy, the
Kuechly has cleared concussion protocol and resumed practicing in a full capacity, but with his long-term health in mind, Carolina may still elect to hold him out of its final two contests. According to coach Ron Rivera, his status will be announced Saturday, so his situation will need to continue to be monitored despite him not appearing on the team's injury report.
Head coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday that the Panthers will decide Kuechly's status for Week 16 either Thursday or Friday, Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated reports. "I'm crossing my fingers every week that they're going to give me the thumbs up to go," Kuechly stated Wednesday.
It's no secret that Kuechly is raring to get back on the field, which could have happened this past weekend after he received clearance from the concussion protocol Saturday. From the Panthers' standpoint, though, a prudent approach will be followed with their All-Pro linebacker after his second serious head injury in a 14-month span. One way or another, Kuechly's availability doesn't appear as if it'll come down to a game-time call, benefiting those owners in IDP formats.
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