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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was carted off the field late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s 23-20 win over the New Orleans Saints and was being evaluated for a concussion.

Kuechly entered the league’s concussion protocol, the Panthers said, after taking what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet on a tackle of Saints running back Tim Hightower.

Kuechly was in tears as he rode off toward the locker room with fans screaming “Luuuuke!”

Kuechly missed three games last season with a concussion. The Panthers already were without outside linebacker A.J. Klein, who suffered a concussion last week.