CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.


For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL