With Luke Kuechly suffering his second concussion of his young career, A.J. Klein will once again be the one called upon to fill arguably the best linebacker in the NFL's shoes.
When Kuechly went out with a concussion in week one of 2015, not to return until Carolina's week five bye, Klein was called on to fill the void. There was an interesting trend in Klein's snap counts during the three games Kuechly was out. (Per Pro-Football-Reference)
WEEK 2 VS TEXANS- Played 66% of snaps in the win. 1 INT, 2 Tackles, 2 Assists.
WEEK 3 VS SAINTS- Played 87% of snaps in the win. 6 Tackles, 4 Assists.
WEEK 4 AT TAMPA BAY- Played 100% of snaps in the win. 4 Tackles, 3 Assist.
As you can see, Klein's snap count went up each week until he played every snap in week four against Tampa Bay. In the Saints and Tampa Bay contests, in particular, Klein played more snaps than any other linebacker for the Panthers.
While these aren't Luke Kuechly numbers necessarily, A.J. Klein can certainly be considered one of the best back up linebackers in the league.
He will be one of the top unrestricted free agents coming up in 2017 on the Panthers roster. There will be several teams eyeing him and this will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his abilities as Kuechly will likely be out several weeks once again.
Klein is also one of six Panthers players (most in NFL) to go through the concussion protocol this season. This is his first week back.
Fans can almost certainly still expect to hears cheers of "LUUUKE" coming from somehwere in the crowd.
Written By Tripp Morgan- Follow Him On Twitter @TrippMorgan6