FILE - In a Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016 file photo, Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly watches from the sidelines in the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Charlotte, N.C. Injuries played a role in Carolinas demise this season, pa
Mike McCarn, File
December 28, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Coach Ron Rivera says he will not play three-time All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly in the team's season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the Panthers out of playoff contention and his star defender recovering from a concussion.

Kuechly was cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol three weeks, but Rivera has elected not to play him as a precautionary measure.

Rivera said the decision about what is best for the long-term future of the team.

Kuechly has not played since suffering his second concussion on Nov. 17 against the New Orleans Saints.

Quarterback Cam Newton was held out of passing drills on Wednesday and backup Derek Anderson was home sick. That meant third-string quarterback Joe Webb got the first-team reps.

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