Carolina Panthers vs Houston Texans with Jonathan and Joe
Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has been ruled out of Sunday's game against Houston with a concussion he sustained in the season-opening win at Jacksonville.
Kuechly has played in 49 consecutive games, and three playoff games, since joining the Panthers as a first-round pick in 2012.
The Panthers listed Kuechly as doubtful on Friday's injury report, but downgraded his status to out Saturday morning in a move most observers expected.
Kuechly has been in the concussion protocol since delivering an awkward hit on Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon late in the first half of the Panthers' 20-9 victory last weekend. He did not practice all week, and Panthers coach Ron Rivera said repeatedly the team would err on the side of caution with the two-time Pro Bowler.
Kuechly's status for the Panthers' Week 3 game against New Orleans will be re-evaluated next week.
A.J. Klein, a third-year linebacker with 10 career starts, will take Kuechly's spot in the middle of the Panthers' 4-3 defensive scheme. Klein, a fifth-round pick in 2013, had six tackles against Jacksonville.
Sunday's matchup with Houston was to have featured the last three Defensive Player of the Year winners. Kuechly took the honor in 2013, sandwiched between Texans defensive end J.J. Watt's awards in 2012 and 2014.
Kuechly led the league in tackles in two of the past three seasons. Despite playing just the first half at Jacksonville, Kuechly tied for the team lead with seven stops.