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Family a big reason bye week comes at a good time for DT Kyle Love

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Quarterback Cam Newton didn’t hesitate when asked if the bye week came at a bad time for the Carolina Panthers because it breaks the momentum of a three-game winning streak and the play of an offense that is just finding its rhythm.

“Absolutely not," the 2015 NFL MVP said after Monday night’s 45-21 victory over Miami. “Absolutely not. I’ve got to take Kira to school, to get her some cupcakes and pizza for her class. So I look forward to that. And we’ve got family pictures."

The bye definitely didn’t come at a bad time for defensive tackle Kyle Love, even though the league’s top-ranked defense is playing its best of the season.

Family is an even bigger reason.

Love’s wife and two children -- ages 2 and 3 -- stayed in Tupelo, Mississippi, when he signed a two-year extension in March. He has barely seen them since training camp began in July, other than a home game against Atlanta two weeks ago and connecting with them using FaceTime on his iPad.

“It’s tough, man," Love said. “My mom kind of compares the NFL lifestyle to the military lifestyle, being away from your family and all that stuff. Sometimes it’s better to be around so they can physically see you every day and you can deal with the problems and issues they have."

Love’s family didn’t stay behind because they were worried he would be released, as he was in 2016 before being re-signed. Undrafted out of Mississippi State in 2010, he has played well in Carolina's four-man rotation with Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short and Vernon Butler. Love is the only one of the four who wasn’t a first- or second-round draft pick. His two sacks rank second among the group to Short, who has four.

Love’s family stayed behind so his wife could run the Once Upon a Child store they opened earlier in the year. There’s a clause in the deal that requires her to run the franchise for at least the first year.

“She’s probably going to try to put me to work when I get there," Love said with a laugh before leaving on Wednesday.

Work aside, Love is thrilled to have the bye week even though he and the Panthers (7-3) are playing well and on a collision course with New Orleans (7-2) for the NFC South lead on Dec. 3.

“It’s kind of tough not being around your kids," he said. “I don’t have an Apple phone, so it’s harder for me. I can’t just grab my phone and see them. I have to get my iPad."