Panthers LB Kuechly returns to practice, status uncertain

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) is taken off the field after being injured in the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, in Charlotte, N.C. Kuechly returned to the practice field, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, for the first time since sustaining a concussion in the teams Nov. 17 game against the Saints. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)
Bob Leverone/AP

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has returned to the practice field for the first time since suffering a frightening concussion in the team's Nov. 17 win against the New Orleans Saints.

The 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed the last two games while in the league's concussion protocol and his status for Sunday's game against San Diego is still unclear.

The five-year NFL veteran was limited in drills during the portion of practice open to the media on Wednesday.

Kuechly was injured when tackling Saints running back Tim Hightower in Carolina's 23-20 win and was immediately put on a cart and taken to the locker room. Kuechly, one of the team's most popular players, appeared dazed after the hit, staring straight ahead and weeping uncontrollably as he was carted off the field.

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