CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Luke Kuechly was placed in the NFL's concussion protocol during Thursday night's game against Philadelphia.

The announcement led everyone to believe Kuechly had suffered his third known concussion in three seasons.

On Sunday, a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter said the Panthers do not believe the star linebacker suffered a concussion. To add to the confusion, the Panthers said Kuechly remains in the protocol.

So the question is, if a player is in the protocol, does that mean he for sure suffered a concussion?

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, speaking generally and not about any particular player, said in an email: "These types of injuries are an evolving process with evaluations conducted at multiple times. Medical personnel are always going to be cautious and they will place a player in the concussion protocol if they believe it is in the best interest of the player."

Given Kuechly's history of head injuries, it's possible medical personnel played it safe and pulled Kuechly from the game, and he was never actually diagnosed with a concussion.

On Friday, fellow linebacker Ben Jacobs said Kuechly attended meetings that day, looked good and was in good spirits.

Regardless, Kuechly still needs to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can return to practice or game action.