We were all disturbed by what we saw after Luke Kuechly suffered a concussion that fateful day last November. It sidelined him for the season and few found that unreasonable. A grown, tough man reduced to tears after getting his bell rung in epic proportion. On review it didn’t look that bad. But it was. Yet for any opponents who might wonder if it knocked the edge off of his game, they will be disappointed.
Was he scared that night? Of course he was.
Will it change the way he plays?
"No," he said. "I've been playing this way for so long. Maybe in practice I might think about it, try to keep a guy off me, but once it's on for real, it's on. You just have to play."
"He hasn't changed at all," Rivera said.
In the little preseason action he has seen so far it sure looked that way. Kuechly is obviously not looking back in spite of the growing evidence that concussions can have a very permanent and lasting effect after the football playing days are over.
"I just play football," he said. "You understand what you are getting into. They're always trying to improve it, make it better and safer and more efficient. It is what it is. And we have a great team here to take care of us."
I hope he is right. I hope Kuechly is one of the guys who lives a normal life after football. I hope he avoids another concussion. HC Ron Rivera was not only cautious in getting Kuechly back, he was overly cautious.
"I wanted to dig in deeper and try and understand what it's all about," Rivera said "You see those things different now. I have a better feel and understanding. I was more cautious than I need to be, but I had to be. When you have a second one, you worry about all kinds of things. You find out when a guy is cleared to play, the likelihood of him having a concussion is still there. The more rest, the better. I listened to the doctors. I didn't want to rush it."
The season was already circling the toilet so he didn’t have the pressure of a playoff run. I would hope that wouldn’t matter anyway, but at least it helped keep the critics off of him.
I just excited to get Luke back on the field (provided he is truly ready and it’s safe for him). The defense obviously suffered somewhat with out him this past week. I doubt we will see him very much until week 1. But we will see him then and we can expect to see authentic Kuechly back in action.