Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has cleared the mandated concussion protocol and is ready to face the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
The question is ‘will the Panthers do what’s in the best interest of their defensive captain’s long-term health?’
Mathematically Carolina kind-of sort-of remains in the playoff picture.
However, it’s the type of hope that only the most desperate fans and team personnel hold on to.
It’s safe to say that they won’t spend any time in the postseason tournament.
Therefore, Panthers coach Ron Rivera spoke to the team’s website about his options when it comes to Kuechly.
“We are excited to have Luke healthy and cleared from the protocol,” Rivera said. “I know he is extremely motivated to get back on the field and help us win games. Whether he plays this week or not, I don’t know. We have to balance our enthusiasm with what’s best for Luke and the team long term.”
With Washington looking to retain their spot as the sixth seed in the NFC race, they are motivated to win at all costs.
Washington’ offensive line is stout and plays extremely physical as they get to the second tier of the defense. To put Kuechly in that position when there is nothing to gain is savage.
A warrior will fight and disregard the fact that this is his second concussion in as many seasons.
Many neurologists will attest to the fact that rest is Kuechly’s best friend at the moment. It’s also his best shot at getting through this and subsequent campaigns without adding a third documented concussion to his resume.
Looking ahead to the contest, with our without their Mike linebacker calling the signals on the field, Carolina will have a hard time pulling this off.
Quarterback Cam Newton is a bit dinged up and will face his former teammate and adversary Josh Norman.
Norman and Newton came to blows as teammates so tensions will be high. When his mind is right, Norman can shut down anyone.
If honesty prevails, Norman will have a harder time covering the hyper-motivated Devin Funchess than former standout Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin has been a shadow of his former self this season and appears to be going through the motions more time than not.
His routes are sloppy and his hands have been suspect when he has been targeted by Newton.
The Redskins offensively are firing on all cylinders and have a passing attack that will drop bombs on the porous Panthers secondary all night long.
The Panthers s will have a hard time matching Washington score-for-score even if they manage to get off to a fast start.
Simply put, Washington will cover the seven point spread and there is nothing the Panthers can do about it.