CHARLOTTE – It's no surprise that the man who celebrated his five-year contract extension last week by watching more game film would be itching to return to practice following a concussion, but the Panthers are making sure Luke Kuechly doesn't get ahead of himself.
Head coach Ron Rivera is taking the same approach.
"We've just got to follow the (NFL concussion) protocol," Rivera said Wednesday after Kuechly missed practice three days after hurting himself in the season opener at Jacksonville. "I don't want to put anything there that's not right or not true. This has obviously become a serious issue, so to guess or to assume would be unfair.
"I just know that he's in the protocol and is going through the steps."
There's no way to know at this point if he'll be cleared to play in Sunday's home opener against the Houston Texans, but Rivera said practicing this week isn't a prerequisite for playing.
"To be able to play effectively and play to his ability, he probably doesn't need to practice," Rivera said. "There are very few guys that can just show up and play."
DAY OF REST: Running back Jonathan Stewart (knee) and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (groin) sat out practice Wednesday, but Rivera didn't sound overly concerned about them.
"For the most part, Jonathan and Dwan were vet days today," Rivera said. "They could have practiced. They were just sore. We just want to let it calm down."
ON THE MEND: Tight end Richie Brockel, who suffered a shoulder injury in the second preseason game versus the Miami Dolphins, missed practice after being inactive for the regular season opener at Jacksonville but is improving.
"It's been getting better every day," said Brockel, who got hurt on what he called "kind of a weird hit."
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Texans.