(Reuters) - Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has not cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, the team said on Saturday.
Kuechly, the National Football League's defensive player of the year in 2013, has been sidelined since suffering the injury against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 17 and will miss a third straight game due to concussion for a second consecutive season.
Drafted by the Panthers ninth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, Kuechly had initially been listed as questionable for Sunday's game and coach Ron Rivera said on Friday that he would be "good to go" as long as he passed the final test of the protocol.
The 25-year-old was a participant in Friday's practice for the first time since the injury and met with the team's medical staff on Saturday before being ruled out for Sunday by an independent neurologist. With Kuechly out, the Panthers (4-8) have lost their last two games and prop up the bottom of the NFC South.
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However, they did receive some good news on Saturday when strong safety Kurt Coleman and cornerback Daryl Worley both cleared the concussion protocol and were declared available to play against the Chargers.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida,; Editing by Larry Fine)