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Kuechly Hopes To Play Saturday


Tim Mazetti
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Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly hoping to play vs. Falcons

6:12 PM ET
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    David NewtonESPN Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly hasn't given up on playing again this season, possibly even Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Kuechly was cleared from the concussion protocol last week after missing three starts, but was held out of Monday night's game against Washington because of concern for his long-term health.

The 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he still hasn't been told he won't play against Atlanta, although coach Ron Rivera said he would err on the side of caution.

"I'm crossing my fingers every week that they're going to give me the thumbs up to go,'' Kuechly said on Wednesday, his first press conference since suffering the concussion in a November 17 primetime game against New Orleans.

"I'm going to prepare like I'm playing. I'm going to make sure I can be ready to go, but we'll see what happens moving forward with it.''

"I have said it a million times, I want to play and I want to be out there with the guys,'' Kuechly said. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

If told he won't play the final two games, Kuechly said he "reluctantly'' will accept it.

"I have said it a million times, I want to play and I want to be out there with the guys,'' Kuechly said. "I want to play, but they're the boss and I've got to listen to what the boss says. So whatever they decide is going to be the plan.''

This is the second straight year Kuechly has missed multiple games with a concussion. He sat out three last season after suffering a concussion in the opener at Jacksonville.

He then played 22 regular-season games and three playoff games before receiving his second one.

Kuechly said not once has he considered retirement, even though some pundits and players have suggested he should.

"You appreciate those guys wanting what's best for you,'' Kuechly said. "It's a thing we're learning more about. I trust what our doctors have to say. I want to get out there and play. This most recent time, just like the last time, everyone said you're good to go."

"I'm holding off that retirement word for a little ways down the road. It's something you appreciate everybody concerned with how you're doing, but whenever my opportunity comes back I'll be back out there.''

Kuechly also said he's not concerned about the potential implications, such as CTE, from multiple concussions that have come up in lawsuits by former players against the NFL the past few years.

"I'm not worried about that,'' Kuechly said. "There's a lot to be learned from it. There's some studies that can say that, but I'm not a doctor and I trust what our guys say. I'm going to play football."

"That's what I do. That's what I like to do. I'm not concerned with that stuff until somebody tells me otherwise.''

Rivera said he won't make a decision on whether Kuechly plays this week until Thursday or Friday. He understands Kuechly wants to play, but said sometimes you have to disregard the player's feelings and do what you and the doctors feel is best for him and the organization.

"At the end of the day, there is a lot of information for me to gather,'' Rivera said. "Being smart, being prudent and we'll make the right decision."

"He and I talk a lot. He wants to play. I told him I've got a lot of things I've got to weigh. That's where we leave it.''

Kuechly practiced full all last week and wasn't listed on Wednesday's injury report. He understands the staff is being cautious and praised the medical team for being thorough.

He admitted it was tough when Rivera told him he wouldn't play on Monday.

"I wouldn't say frustrating,'' he said. "Even last year, the same as this year, you just want to play. That's probably the most frustrating part if that's what you want to call it.

"You want to be out there playing, because that's what you prepare the whole year for.''

Kuechly opened the press conference by saying he didn't want to revisit the night he was injured and the tears that were captured on television as he was carted off the field.

But he did address the outpouring of support in terms of texts and messages from players from other teams and fans throughout the league.

"The thing I appreciate about that situation was the amount of support people showed,'' Kuechly said. "You play a game and it's an intense game and a battle, but at the end of the day everybody understands it's just a game.''

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2 hours ago, Jpowers said:

He just needs to sit out the rest of the season. This seems like one of those situations where the coach has to protect the player from themselves.

Two too many concussions. Although I have suffered two. One very severe. One in high school diving for a loose basketball, and having a player fall on my head, the other in an auto accident at the age of 31. 

So, being possibly brain damaged, I can only relate to my experiences: My acquaintances (I have no true friends) mostly think I am an a$$ and my family knows I am THAT Uncle.

Well, maybe being in the Viet Nam war at the age of 18-19 attributed, I dunno.

Edited by Tim Mazetti
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So, if Luke is out, we'll get this from AJ Klein:

n5oCKlj.gif

s6UxCNr.gif

If Luke is playing then we get the above plus this:

V2eKNsj.gif

0upRgyt.gif

All honesty, I think Ron is trying to restrain Luke, while Luke is fighting tooth and nail to get back in. He loves the game, he's born for the game, and I know he hates being away from it. 

The fan in me wants him to play, but the person in me wants him to not risk his career over two more spoiler type games. Klein is auditioning for many other teams right now, and he's been filling in for Luke quite nicely. 

Edited by SamMills51
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3 minutes ago, SamMills51 said:

So, if Luke is out, we'll get this from AJ Klein:

n5oCKlj.gif

s6UxCNr.gif

If Luke is playing then we get the above plus this:

V2eKNsj.gif

0upRgyt.gif

All honesty, I think Ron is trying to restrain Luke, while Luke is fighting tooth and nail to get back in. He loves the game, he's born for the game, and I know he hates being away from it. 

The fan in me wants him to play, but the person in me wants him to not risk his career over two more spoiler type games. Klein is auditioning for many other teams right now, and he's been filling in for Luke quite nicely. 

jjtd.0.0.gif

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1 minute ago, SamMills51 said:

To be fair, that's a linebacker on one of the greatest receivers to play the game. 

Not exactly in the linebacker's favor in these kind of matchups, but that was one heck of a play I'll admit.

Honestly just the fact that Kuechly was even there that far down field with Julio is impressive. It was just too good of a chance to post that gif for me not to.

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1 hour ago, SamMills51 said:

So, if Luke is out, we'll get this from AJ Klein:

n5oCKlj.gif

s6UxCNr.gif

If Luke is playing then we get the above plus this:

V2eKNsj.gif

0upRgyt.gif

All honesty, I think Ron is trying to restrain Luke, while Luke is fighting tooth and nail to get back in. He loves the game, he's born for the game, and I know he hates being away from it. 

The fan in me wants him to play, but the person in me wants him to not risk his career over two more spoiler type games. Klein is auditioning for many other teams right now, and he's been filling in for Luke quite nicely. 

You have any Luke gif's from the first game this season?

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Let's hope they are smart enough not to risk it. He's to good a player to have his career cut short. Also, if he's not there it makes Matt's job much easier. 

 

To the Troll:

You can pull all the names you want out of the bucket of "Who??" but, you don't have anyone close to Luke if he's not playing. 

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2 hours ago, SamMills51 said:

So, if Luke is out, we'll get this from AJ Klein:

n5oCKlj.gif

s6UxCNr.gif

If Luke is playing then we get the above plus this:

V2eKNsj.gif

0upRgyt.gif

All honesty, I think Ron is trying to restrain Luke, while Luke is fighting tooth and nail to get back in. He loves the game, he's born for the game, and I know he hates being away from it. 

The fan in me wants him to play, but the person in me wants him to not risk his career over two more spoiler type games. Klein is auditioning for many other teams right now, and he's been filling in for Luke quite nicely. 

You gon' be back round these parts bout 4PM Saturday?

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13 minutes ago, Yo_Lover said:

God I hope they sit him for the rest of the season. Not because I don't wanna face him but because his health should be #1 priority.

Agreed. They've already been through this scenario once with Dan Morgan.

 

 

Interesting fact: Dan Morgan is now the Director of Pro Personnel for Seattle. 

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Rivera will probably play him if he's half way ready. Panthers have nothing to play for except pride, and I know they would LOVE to beat us and put a hiccup in our playoff chances. Especially after what we did to them earlier. There are no easy ways to the playoffs. We either do it or don't.  No matter who's in front of us, we need to take care of business. Hoping for a win this Sat.

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