Morgan gets late, but great, Christmas gift

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Dan Morgan said yesterday he's been cleared to return to football next season despite multiple concussions.

Morgan suffered at least the fifth concussion of his career in the season opener against Atlanta and missed the rest of the season.

But Morgan said he was in Pittsburgh last week, where he took numerous tests, and a team of physicians led by concussion expert Dr. Mickey Collins gave him the OK to begin playing again during mini-camps in the spring.

Collins recommended in October that Morgan not return this season.

"It was real exciting. That was a great Christmas present, a late Christmas present," Morgan said yesterday. "I felt great. I felt I was going to do real well and I went up there and did real well on all my testing."

Morgan suffered his first concussion as a pro in 2003. He missed four more games in 2004 with another concussion. He then suffered one in the pre-season and another in the loss to Atlanta in Week 1 this year.