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 SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) -Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Dan Morgan will play in a game for the first time since suffering at least the fifth concussion of his career on Friday against New England.
``It's been almost a year now since I've played in a game, so obviously I'm real excited,'' Morgan said Monday. ``I'm going to go out and have fun. This is what I love to do.''
Morgan, who suffered his first concussion with the Panthers in 2003, had a concussion in the preseason last year, and another one in Carolina's season-opening loss to Atlanta. He sat out the final 15 games, but in January was cleared by doctors to return to football.
Morgan increasingly was involved in more contact drills as training camp moved on. He dressed but was held out of the Panthers' first two preseason games.
``It was a little bit of a tease, but I understood what they were doing,'' Morgan said. ``I was fine with it.''
But Morgan, who said he'll play about a quarter against the Patriots, wanted to get into at least one exhibition game before the regular-season opener at St. Louis on Sept. 9.
``Me and Coach Fox talked about that,'' Morgan said. ``Do I feel like I could go out and not play preseason and play in St. Louis? Yeah, but I'd like to go out there and get that feel back, that game feel back.''
Morgan's return coincides with increasing concern about the long-term effects of concussions. Several former players have complained of memory loss and depression.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ordered all team doctors and trainers to attend a summit earlier this summer on concussions. The league announced last week a telephone hotline was being put in place to make it easier to report when a player with a head injury is being forced to practice or play against medical advice.
But Morgan, who has been wearing a special helmet with extra padding, said he won't feel any apprehension before kickoff Friday night at Bank of America Stadium.
``Absolutely not. I feel great,'' Morgan said. ``I've had a lot of hits out here. I've got no worries.''
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