Luke Kuechly in NFL's concussion protocol

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that linebacker Luke Kuechly is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving Thursday’s game against New Orleans.

Kuechly was injured in the fourth quarter of the Panthers’ win after colliding with running back Tim Hightower.

Rivera’s press conference opened with questions about the team’s star linebacker’s condition.

“He’s in the protocol, that’s all I know,” Rivera said.

RELATED: Luke Kuechly leaves game after apparent injury

Rivera went on to say he hadn’t talked to Kuechly since Thursday night. He said as far as he knows, Kuechly’s injury is strictly related to concussion-like symptoms, but did say it’s possible doctors found something else. Speculation of Kuechly’s injury ranged from an ankle to a possible knee injury after his leg appeared to bend awkwardly.

“I have not talked to him since, so I don’t know if there’s anything else that popped up.”

Rivera refused to speculate on Kuechly’s condition, saying he’s not qualified to offer analysis.

“I’m not the expert when it comes to that, you’re better off talking to a medical professional about that,” Rivera said. “Sometimes you say a lot and people become critical. I’m not the expert, so I’m trying to avoid being caught in the middle.”

Thomas Davis posted a photo to his Instagram account with Kuechly, saying “Luke wanted me to let you guys know that he’s doing fine and thanks for your prayers.” Rivera said he wasn’t aware of Davis’ post, but acknowledged that it was an encouraging sign that Kuechly was in the facility and in good spirits.

“He’s a warrior that loves the game and it’s important to him,” Rivera said. “I appreciate the outpouring for him.”

The loss of Kuechly for an extended period of time would be a huge loss for the Panthers, who improved to 4-6 with their 23-20 win over the Saints. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and was made three Pro Bowl appearances since joining the team in 2012. 


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