Panthers’ Luke Kuechly enters concussion protocol; Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski is out Sunday

NFC South: Carolina Panthers

Carolina’s once stingy defense needs to get its bite back, but that unit has some work to do following the loss of McDermott. Kawann Short and Charles Johnson are free agents, and Luke Kuechly’s (pictured) 2016 season was derailed by a concussion issue.

(Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer via TNS)

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has been placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol and his status for the team’s Nov. 27 game against Oakland is uncertain. 

Coach Ron Rivera updated Kuechly’s status on Friday and said that the linebacker has no other known injuries. 

The 2013 NFL fefensive player of the year was carted off the field in an emotional moment during the fourth quarter of Carolina’s 23-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. Kuechly appeared to be gasping for breath as he was helped to the cart, and tears rolled down his face. Players from both sides came over to offer their well wishes to Kuechly. 

Kuechly spent 34 days last season in the concussion protocol and missed three games. 


Rivera described Kuechly’s second known career concussion “concerning,” but quickly added, “I don’t want to get into the speculation of all of that. I’m not the expert.” 

On Friday, Kuechly’s teammate and good friend Thomas Davis posted a picture on his Instagram of a smiling Kuechly giving the thumbs-up sign and wrote “Luke wanted me to let you guys know that he’s doing fine and thanks for your prayers!!” 

Gronkowski to miss Sunday’s game

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will miss Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers with a chest injury, according to the injury report filed by the team on Friday. 


Gronkowski was staggered in the second quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks after taking a hard hit to his chest from safety Earl Thomas. He returned to the game but did not practice all week. 

Receiver Chris Hogan is also out for the game with a back injury, the team said. 

NFL fines

Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan and Atlanta rookie safety Keanu Neal drew hefty fines Friday for their actions in last weekend’s NFL games. Lewan was docked $30,387 for making contact with an official, a fine he says he will appeal. Neal was fined $24,309 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews

Washington defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins’ roughing-the-passer penalty on Minnesota’s Sam Bradford cost him $18,231. Titans rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe was fined $12,154 for unsportsmanlike conduct. 

Four players were nailed for $9,115 fines: Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion for a late hit, and defensive end Mike Daniels for unsportsmanlike conduct; Titans cornerback Perrish Cox for a hit on Aaron Rodgers in the end zone; and Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. for a late hit. 


The Green Bay Packers will be without two more starters on Sunday night against Washington after Coach Mike McCarthy said guard T.J. Lang (foot) and linebacker Jake Ryan (ankle) would miss the game. Tight end Jared Cook (foot) and linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) have practice and are listed as questionable. …  The Kansas City Chiefs again will be without top wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (groin) when they play Tampa Bay on Sunday, though it’s increasingly likely linebacker Justin Houston (ACL surgery) will make his season debut. … The Buffalo Bills have listed defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (hamstring) as questionable for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Backup defensive tackle Corbin Bryant (shoulder) has been ruled out from playing Sunday while Ryan Groy will start at center in place of Eric Wood, who will miss the remainder of the season with a broken right leg. ...


Tennessee Titans left guard Quinton Spain will start Sunday at Indianapolis after missing two games and serving as a backup last week. Spain hyper-extended his right knee Oct. 23 in a 34-26 loss to Indianapolis. … Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III will practice next week and it remains possible he’ll play again this season. Griffin has been sidelined with a broken bone in his left shoulder since in the season opener at Philadelphia. He was cleared for non-contact drills this week, and Coach Hue Jackson said that the 26-year-old will return to practice in a larger capacity next week.