Now we know why Luke Kuechly didn’t play in the Pro Bowl.
The Carolina Panthers middle linebacker is recovering from shoulder surgery, a league source told the Observer on Monday.
Kuechly recently underwent a procedure on his right shoulder, according to sources. He had surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder two years ago after the 2015 Super Bowl season.
Kuechly, who won the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award on Feb. 3 in Minneapolis, skipped last month’s Pro Bowl because of an unspecified injury. He was replaced by the Atlanta Falcons’ Deion Jones.
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Kuechly played in 15 of 16 regular-season games in 2017, missing a Week 7 loss at Chicago while in the concussion protocol.
But his shoulder issue popped up on the injury report late in the season. He was listed as a full participant with a shoulder injury during the three practices before a Dec. 17 victory over Green Bay.
Kuechly played every defensive rep against the Packers, and didn’t miss a defensive snap the rest of the season.
Kuechly became the first player in Panthers history to record at least 100 tackles – based on coaches’ film review – in each of his first six seasons.
Kuechly, 26, is the second defensive starter to undergo shoulder surgery in recent days.
Defensive end Julius Peppers had a labrum repair on his right shoulder last week, posting a picture on his Instagram after the surgery and writing that “everything went smooth” and he was recovering well.