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Luke Kuechly ruled out with concussion against Buccaneers

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Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has been ruled out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ron Rivera said today. According to the Panthers head coach, he won't travel to Tampa and has no chance of playing. Apparently the linebacker didn't pass the concussion protocol, and the team feels he has no chance of passing it before Sunday.

With Kuechly out, the Panthers should play 2013 fifth-round pick A.J. Klein at middle linebacker -- a significant dropoff from the All-Pro Kuechly, but not necessarily a disastrous one. Rivera noted that he feels confident about the injuries to Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, and the team's top two running backs should play on Sunday.

With Kuechly out, the Bucs would normally target the middle of the field in the passing game, but they don't have the weapons to do so -- Austin Seferian-Jenkins is sidelined for a month or longer, and no other tight end is capable of threatening the middle. They are likely to run the ball, though, but the team struggled to get Doug Martin going last week in a loss against the Texans.

On the official injury report, receiver Jerrico Cotchery, Luke Kuechly, guard Amini Silatolu and tackle Daryl Williams are all listed as out. Every other player on the Panthers' injury report is officially probable.