CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Luke Kuechly left Thursday night's game to be evaluated for a possible concussion and did not return.
"The only thing I can tell you is that he's in the protocol," head coach Ron Rivera said following the Panthers' 28-23 loss to the Eagles. "I don't know anything other than that."
As the clock ticked under the five-minute mark in the second quarter, after Kuechly was blocked hard on a LeGarrette Blount 2-yard run down to the 1, Kuechly slightly slumped in the middle of the field before heading to the sideline under his own power. Kuechly appeared to be flexing his shoulder and neck area while talking to head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion on the sideline, but he soon headed to the locker room and never returned.
"I didn't even see what happened. I was getting ready for the next play wondering what was taking so long, and then I saw him walking to the sideline," cornerback Daryl Worley said. "Luke is the best player in this game right now, so there's not going to be any replacing him. There's going to be some type of deflation to the atmosphere just simply with us worrying about him."
Worley compliment the job that David Mayo did in Kuechly's stead.
"I didn't even see the play or what happened, didn't even realize somebody was down before Coach was telling me to get in," Mayo said. "I'm ready to go in any time, though. I was ready to go.
"Hopefully he recovers well. He's a huge leader on this team and on this defense, and a great player obviously, so it's huge."
Kuechly suffered a concussion on Thursday Night Football last season in Week 11 and didn't play the rest of the season. The Panthers, now 4-2, have 10 days before their next game October 22 at the Chicago Bears.
"We need Luke," quarterback Cam Newton said. "His presence was missed."
View images from Carolina's loss to Philadelphia on Thursday Night Football.