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Luke Kuechly, Kurt Coleman heading in right direction


CHARLOTTE – After practicing in full on Wednesday, linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Kurt Coleman appear on track to return to the lineup this week against the Buccaneers.

Kuechly didn't play in Sunday's loss to the Bears after suffering a concussion a week prior against the Eagles.

"He's going through the protocol, and that's one of the steps in it," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He looked good. He practiced very well. I thought the guys flew around and had some extra energy."

Coleman has missed the last three games with a knee injury. He returned to practice last week but wasn't quite ready to play against Chicago. His presence in the back end, along with Kuechly in the middle of the defense, is hugely beneficial for Carolina's defensive synergy.

"You could hear the communications back there," Rivera said. "Kurt is a veteran guy who has been in the system for three years. It's good to have him back on the field running around."

Guard Trai Turner, who left the game in Chicago after suffering a knee injury, was also somewhat surprisingly able to practice fully.

"Very fortunate," Rivera said of Turner's availability. "He was out there and looked good."

Center Ryan Kalil, whose long-awaited return to action from a neck injury was limited to just 15 plays at Chicago, did not practice.

Quarterback Cam Newton (shoulder), wide receiver Devin Funchess (wide receiver), running back Jonathan Stewart (toe) and fullback Alex Armah (hamstring) were limited.

Running back Christian McCaffrey showed up on the injury report with a wrist injury, but he practiced in full.

"He jammed it," Rivera said. "No big deal."

View photos of the week of practice leading up to the Panthers' game against the Buccaneers.

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