CHARLOTTE - For all those who have assumed Ryan Kalil has been dealing with more than "a crick in his neck" after sleeping on it wrong, well, you're right.
"It was a little more than that," the five-time Pro Bowl center admitted Wednesday before joking, "but I appreciated all the well wishes and advice on pillows I could purchase. That was very nice of everyone."
If you're hoping for the full diagnosis, that's still not happening. Kalil wouldn't go into details, only saying the ailment that's kept him out the past three games is "just a neck injury."
But after working on the side Wednesday during his first appearance on the practice field in three weeks, Kalil did explain why he was pulled from the lineup 20 minutes before the Panthers kicked off with the Bills.
"I hurt it sometime during the week of Buffalo - prep week," he said. "It just kept getting more stiff throughout the week. I thought by Sunday I'd be all right.
"Sunday I woke up and I couldn't move my neck. I was in a lot of pain and tried to loosen it up (in pregame), and I ended up hurting it worse."
Because of the somewhat mysterious nature of Kalil's injury and his absence from the practice field and locker room, many have wondered if there was something deeper going on. But it's not easy to play football with a neck injury, especially for a guy who plays on the offensive line.
"I use my head and neck a lot in my position," Kalil said.
"It's been really frustrating, but I'm just happy that I finally feel like I've turned the corner."
Not surprisingly, Kalil also was mum on a target return date, declining to give a timeline. What could make matters worse is backup Tyler Larsen now has a sore shoulder, which made Greg Van Roten the full-time center during Wednesday's practice.
But Larsen should be able to play in Detroit, and if Kalil can't, at least he is inching closer.
"It's been pretty bad for a couple of weeks. Monday was the first day it started feeling better," Kalil said.
"I think we're just going to keep going until I feel pretty good. I felt pretty good today running around and pushing the sled and doing some physical stuff, so we'll keep rolling."