Panthers to be without Luke Kuechly, Ryan Kalil vs. Raiders

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly and center Ryan Kalil have been ruled out for Sunday's game at Oakland, coach Ron Rivera said on Friday.

Also, the Panthers placed left tackle Michael Oher on injured reserve. Oher missed the past seven games with a concussion and there was no timetable for his return.

Kuechly, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of the win over New Orleans on Nov. 17 and has not been at practice all week.

Neither has Kalil, who re-injured the shoulder that kept him out of two starts prior to the New Orleans game.

Both players were scheduled to travel to the West Coast with the team Friday, and Rivera said that was an indication they possibly could be available to play at Seattle on Dec. 4.

The Panthers are practicing at San Jose State next week in preparation for the game against the Seahawks instead of returning to Charlotte.

"It's very important,'' Rivera said of having Kuechly and Kalil make the trip. "For the obvious reasons going forward, communication, helping their teammates, and not just the moral support, but what they know about the game. It's kind of like having another set of coaching eyes on the sideline.''

Defensive end Mario Addison (foot) will not make the trip. The Panthers activated end Ryan Delaire, who had been on injured reserve, to the 53-man roster.

A.J. Klein, who missed the New Orleans game with a concussion, will start for Kuechly.

Klein started all three games last season that Kuechly missed with a concussion suffered in the opener at Jacksonville.

"I feel really good about who A.J. is as a football player for us,'' Rivera said. "He's done some really good things. He has started inside and outside for us. We always talk about position flexibility. Well, this guy has proven it.''

Gino Gradkowski is expected to start for Kalil. He started the previous two games missed by the five-time Pro Bowl player, but sat out of the New Orleans game with a knee injury.

The decision to place Oher on injured reserve was made in part because the organization needed roster spots due to other injury situations and in part because of the uncertainty of his return and how long it would take to get him back into football shape.

The Panthers signed guard/center David Yankey and cornerback Lou Young off the practice squad. In addition to Oher, the Panthers placed rookie corner Zack Sanchez on injured reserve.

"We did everything we could,'' Rivera said of Oher. "We tried to be with him and help him out as much as we could. It's tough. It's just one of those things. The further long you go, the tougher it's going to be to get him back in shape.''
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