Panther's Luke Kuechly in full pads for practice

    <p>FILE: Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly (59) and Kawann Short (99) wear a #51 decal on their helmets as they warm up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. The 51 is in honor of former Carolina Panthers linebacker and coach Sam Mills, who died of cancer. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn){/p}<p>AA{/p}

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly practiced in full pads and coach Ron Rivera says he's on pace to play Sunday against the Buccaneers.

    Kuechly participated in all of practice Wednesday but has not yet been cleared from the NFL concussion protocol, Rivera said.

    The league's NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 is expected to meet with independent physicians later this week. However, the fact he practiced without any restrictions is a positive sign for Carolina.

    Kuechly, a three-time All-Pro, suffered his third concussion in three seasons in a Thursday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 12.

    He sat out Sunday's game against the Bears.

    Safety Kurt Coleman also returned to practice full Wednesday after missing the last three games with a knee injury.

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