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Panthers' Kony Ealy in NFL's concussion protocol

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Five months removed from playing at an MVP level in Super Bowl 50, Panthers defensive lineman Kony Ealy has been sidelined in Carolina.

Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer reported Sunday that Ealy is mired in the league's concussion protocol, according to Panthers coach Ron Rivera. The defender absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit during Saturday's practice.

Ealy was a sensation against the Denver Broncos in February, becoming the first player in Super Bowl history with multiple sacks and an interception -- a feat he notched despite playing just 23 snaps.

The third-year end started nine games last season and piled up five sacks, giving Carolina's havoc-wreaking defense yet another author of chaos. Once he makes it through protocol, Ealy should have an even bigger role for the Panthers in 2016.

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