Rivera: Kuechly clears concussion protocol, status uncertain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has been cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol by independent doctors to play Monday night against the Washington Redskins, according to team spokesman Steven Drummond.

But it's not clear if Kuechly will play.

The decision on whether or not the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year will play will be up to coach Ron Rivera. The Panthers could be eliminated from playoff contention before they ever take the field and Rivera could err on the said of caution and hold him out for the final three games.

Kuechly has had missed six games in the last two seasons due to concussions.

He has practiced all week.

"We are excited to have Luke healthy and cleared from the protocol," Rivera said told the team's website Saturday. "I know he is extremely motivated to get back on the field and help us win games. Whether he plays this week or not, I don't know. We have to balance our enthusiasm with what's best for Luke and the team long term."

Kuechly is listed as questionable on the team's injury report.

Rivera said quarterback Cam Newton is "good to go" Monday night, although he's listed as questionable on the injury report with a right shoulder injury.

"He moved around pretty well out there in practice," Rivera said Saturday.

Newton had an MRI this week that revealed no series damage. Rivera has limited Newton's reps this week as a precaution.

Kelvin Benjamin is also listed as questionable with a back injury, but Rivera said he looked good in practice and expects the wide receiver to play.

Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly's status remains unclear. He participated full in practice again, but remains in the concussion protocol and is listed as questionable.

Defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) and right tackle Daryl Williams (ankle) are out.


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