Luke Kuechly won't play Sunday vs. Texans

Carolina Panthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly has been ruled out for Sunday's home opener because of a concussion.

Kuechly, who initially had been listed as doubtful, has started 52 consecutive games, including three playoff appearances.

The Panthers did not specify whether Kuechly was unable to pass the final stages of the concussion protocol. But coach Ron Rivera said Friday that he would go with the decision of the independent physician, who makes the final call.

Third-year linebacker A.J. Klein will start in Kuechly's place Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Kuechly suffered the concussion late in the first half of Carolina's win at Jacksonville when he collided awkwardly with Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon. He has progressed daily through the concussion protocol and was scheduled to practice Saturday.

Kuechly's 480 tackles in his career are the most in the NFL since 2012. He had seven in the first half of the opener.

Klein, who has 10 starts at outside linebacker for Carolina, had five tackles in the second half of Sunday's 20-9 victory at Jacksonville. The Panthers held the Jaguars to 75 yards and no points without Kuechly.

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