Luke Kuechly wants some preseason time

AP

The Panthers are going to play it safe with linebacker Luke Kuechly Thursday night, the same way they are with quarterback Cam Newton.

But after he was held out of some practice time last week after being caught in a pile, the former defensive player of the year said it was important for him to play in the preseason to feel ready.

“You can’t tackle people out here” in practice the way it is in a game, Kuechly said, via Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I think there’s a big difference between running by a guy [with the ball] and tagging off, and tackling someone. You’ve got to do it once or twice to get the feel for it. You’ve got to get one [hit] inside and another in space. . . .

“I’m a guy who feels like he needs a practice during the week during the season and in the preseason a couple of tackles to make sure I remember how to play football.”

Kuechly was adamant that last week’s absence wasn’t concussion-related, though that specter hangs over him since he’s missed significant time because of them in the past. It’s not enough to make him shy away from contact, however. Or the preseason as a whole.