Luke Kuechly might be the most important player on the Carolina Panthers’ roster. Fortunately for the team, he’s getting healthy at the right time.
Middle linebacker isn’t the most glamorous position in the NFL but it holds a lot of importance for the Panthers. Everyone in Carolina understands that Luke Kuechly has to be healthy and productive if the Panthers are going to make a postseason run in 2018.
The good news for Panthers fans is that Kuechly’s rehabilitation is running right on schedule. The talented linebacker is frustrated that he can’t be a full participant in minicamp at the moment, but he does believe he’ll be ready to go for training camp.
Kuechly is more than just a tackling machine for Ron Rivera’s defense. In many ways he’s also the brains of the talented unit. There’s a lot of talent on that side of the field for the Panthers, but Kuechly makes the calls. It’s his job to put his teammates where they need to be to make plays.
The former Boston College star also showcases an uncanny ability to diagnose plays well before they develop. He isn’t the biggest or fastest linebacker in the league, but he still regularly ranks among the league’s top tacklers. He does that by figuring out where a play is going before the offense really shows its hand.
It’s particularly important that Kuechly be ready for Week One giving the suspension to fellow linebacker Thomas Davis. The former Georgia defender will miss the first four games of the season. The team has high hopes that Shaq Thompson can fill his shoes, but he’ll need the steady presence of Kuechly next to him in the defensive backfield. The Panthers can afford to start the year without one starting linebacker, but overcoming the loss of two could turn into disaster.
There’s still a lot of time left between now and training camp, but the fact that Kuechly feels like he’ll be ready is excellent news for the Panthers and their fans. His return to the field can turn Ron Rivera’s defensive group from good to great in a hurry.