Ron Rivera: Gut is to ‘err on the side of caution’ with Luke Kuechly

Luke Kuechly
Courtesy of USA Today Sports: Kuechly has morphed into one of the top defenders in the NFL.

Luke Kuechly was cleared to play on Monday night after passing the NFL’s concussion protocol, yet the Carolina Panthers linebacker was held out of the game.

It was the smart move, as Kuechly’s concussion suffered in Week 11 was obviously a big one — his second such injury in two years.

Going forward, with two games left to play, it sure sounds like head coach Ron Rivera plans on keeping his star inside linebacker on the sidelines the rest of the season.

For all intents and purposes, the Panthers are out of the NFC Playoff picture, even if they aren’t mathematically eliminated yet. With that in mind, and considering the fact this latest concussion kept Kuechly on the league’s protocol for three weeks, there is absolutely no reason to risk further damage to his brain.

In fact, as much as Panthers fans and the franchise itself does not want to see this happen, Kuechly should honestly take a hard look at retiring, at least in this scribe’s opinion. That’s a personal choice he’ll have to make.

But the science of brain trauma has come along far enough now that we know permanent, unalterable damage can occur when players take repeated blows to the head like he’s taken over the course of his career, both at Boston College and in the NFL.

Needless to say, erring on the side of caution is the best possible approach Rivera, Kuechly and the Panthers can take right now for the sake of his long-term health.