"He’s a stud," Kuechly said. "He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever seen play at that spot. We’ve got to prepare for him to be there. We’ve got to prepare for him not to be there. You don’t know what the situation is."
Peterson suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during Sunday night’s victory against Green Bay. Doctors and team officials are trying to determine if this is something that the 2015 NFL rushing leader can play with.
Arian Foster played most of the 2010 season with a torn meniscus and led the league in rushing with 1,616 yards.
So Kuechly isn’t taking anything for granted when it comes to Peterson.
"He’s a stud. He’s a physical back," said Kuechly, a three-time Pro Bowl selection said. "The last time we played them they didn’t have him, and they beat us. So one guy doesn’t make a team. It’s kind of like our guys, it doesn’t matter who is in the game, they’re going to play hard. Regardless of if he plays, the guy they have back there, [Matt] Asiata, he’s pretty good."
The Panthers (1-1) lost 31-13 at Minnesota in 2014 with Peterson out serving a suspension from a child abuse case. Asiata led the Vikings, who scored two touchdowns on blocked punts, in rushing with 52 yards on 14 carries.
"He’s physical. He’s big. He’s got good size," Kuechly said of Asiata.
Peterson played against Carolina in 2013 two days after the death of his 2-year-old son. He had 62 yards rushing on 10 carries in a 35-10 Carolina win.
But as Kuechly noted after watching Minnesota (2-0) on Sunday night, the Vikings have more than Peterson. He was impressed with quarterback Sam Bradford, making his first start two weeks after being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia.
"Bradford, I don’t know [how] he’s been able to do what he’s done in that short period of time he’s been there," Kuechly said. "A couple of the balls he threw were like perfect passes. They’ve got some weapons on offense."
One of those is wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who leads the NFL in receiving yards with 285 on 16 catches. Many of Diggs' nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay came over the middle, where Kuechly often roams.
"He looked explosive. He looked fast," Kuechly said. "He looked like he was having a lot of fun, so that’ll be a guy we have to make sure we know where he is."
But for the Panthers, it begins with stopping the run, as they did in holding San Francisco to 65 yards on 26 carries.
"We’ve got to make sure that, regardless of if Adrian Peterson plays or not," Kuechly said. "We’ve got to make sure we’re in our gaps, because it’s the NFL, all of those guys on that side of the ball, if you give them a chance to make a play they’re going to make it."