Panthers linebacker Kuechly in concussion protocol

Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:59pm EST
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(Reuters) - Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is in the NFL's concussion protocol following the emotional scenes that emerged in Thursday night's game at Bank of America Stadium.

"He's in the protocol," coach Ron Rivera told a news conference on Friday.

Rivera provided no other details about the injury and no timeline over when he might return.

The protocol means a player has to be initially kept under observation. He must then pass a medical before he can return to action.

Kuechly, a triple Pro Bowler and the heart of the Panthers defense, was in tears and struggling to catch his breath following helmet-to-helmet contact as he made a tackle late in the 23-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

That moment was in stark contrast to a photo posted on Friday by team mate Thomas Davis from the Panthers locker room of him and Kuechly smiling and giving a thumbs-up gesture.

"Luke wanted me to let you guys know that he's doing fine and thanks for your prayers," read Davis' Instagram caption.

The 25-year-old Kuechly was also out for three games last season after suffering concussion.

Saints running back Tim Hightower came through the line on a four-yard run and lowered his helmet into Kuechly's facemask and chest.   Continued...

Nov 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) rides the cart after an injury in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Saints 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports