CHARLOTTE – The Panthers will have Luke Kuechly back on the field for Sunday's showdown at the Seattle Seahawks, but the linebacker who filled in so admirably during Kuechly's three-game absence won't be in action.
A.J. Klein has been ruled out for the game after he met with an independent doctor and wasn't cleared from the concussion protocol. Defensive end Jared Allen, slowed by a pinched nerve in his back, has also been ruled out and won't make the trip.
Kuechly is officially listed as probable, as is wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain but practiced all week.
Klein told reporters Thursday that he felt ill after the Panthers' last game nearly two weeks ago at Tampa Bay but didn't think it was a concussion.
"Last week he had a fever and all that kind of stuff, and then the next day he came back and told (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) that he had had a headache," head coach Ron Rivera explained. "Ryan checked him out, and that's when they put him in the protocol."
The potential complication is that while Kuechly appears to be full speed after sitting out three games with a concussion, the Panthers would rather not play him every snap. Those snaps would have gone to Klein.
"Hopefully, we'll get into situations where we can do some in-and-out stuff with Luke just to be smart. If we play 60 plays, I'd hate for him to have to play 60 plays," Rivera said. "We'll take a look at all the scenarios. We have to consider Ben Jacobs. Ben had a really good camp, and he's a guy we have a lot of confidence in."
Jacobs, a special teams stalwart, was preparing to see snaps on defense prior to Carolina's last game while Thomas Davis battled a pectoral injury. But Davis recovered enough to play three-fourths of the snaps, and Carolina didn't call on Jacobs, who knows it could turn out the same way Sunday.
"I know Luke, and I don't expect anything but Luke's best. I know he's going to go out there and just be an animal and tear it up," Jacobs said. "In my mind, I'm there just in case something happens, but I know Luke is going to go out there and be Luke."
The situation possibly could be different if this were a home game. Instead, the Panthers face a long flight on Friday. That could be the case with Allen, who will be replaced in the starting lineup by .
"We would have two more days to take it to game day," Rivera said. "He's getting better, but not to where we need him in order to be effective. Maybe in the playoffs you'd play him in this condition, but not now. We've got plenty of time and a lot of games still left to play."
Offensive lineman Amini Silatolu, being counted on to provide depth at tackle, is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that sidelined him against the Buccaneers, but Rivera feels good about Silatolu's availability. Offensive tackle Daryl Williams (knee) remains out, and tight end Richie Brockel (hamstring) is doubtful.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Seahawks.