Carolina Panthers wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was hit in the neck area during practice Tuesday, carted off the field, and taken away by ambulance.
The player who struck him was kicked out of practice and almost immediately waived from the team.
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Kirkwood sustained a concussion. He was later released from the hospital and is back with the team on the Wofford College campus, a Panthers spokesman said.
Coach Matt Rhule called the hit by rookie cornerback J.T. Ibe “unacceptable.”
“It’s obviously precautionary and we will wait and see after he’s looked at what exactly (the injury) is,” Rhule said after the team’s first padded practice. “That was just the early signs. … I’m anxious to see what they say.”
Rhule was clearly upset when talking about the play by Ibe.
The brutal tackle halted practice for more than 10 minutes as the medical staff tended to Kirkwood on the field. Rhule gathered the players on an adjacent field and spoke to them while Kirkwood was placed in the ambulance.
“It’s completely unacceptable to do something like that,” Rhule said. “There are bang-bang plays that will happen and guys will hit the ground, but you can’t tee off on somebody. That’s not what we do and that is undisciplined by us and can’t happen.”
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Rhule spoke just moments before it was announced the team had waived Ibe. The Panthers have not released a statement from Rhule or general manager Scott Fitterer on the decision.
Ibe spent four seasons at Rice and two seasons at South Carolina and was trying to make the Panthers roster as an undrafted free agent. He had signed with Carolina in April.
Kirkwood twice broke his clavicle last season and was limited to one catch for 13 yards in one regular-season game. He played his first two seasons for the New Orleans Saints and also played for Rhule at Temple.
“It’s a sad, sad part of the game and we have to do a better job of taking care of each other out here,” Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold said. “It was a hard lesson that we learned today.”
Panthers left tackle Cam Erving said it was difficult to resume practice after Kirkwood went down, but said it’s something a young team like the Panthers needs to learn to do.
“We don’t want anybody to get hurt or things to happen like that, but it’s about sudden change and adjusting and having to move forward because if something like that happens in a game, God forbid, we still have to go out there and play,” Erving said.
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You can see the savage tackle here.
Ibe is the player on the bottom that launches himself at Kirkwood —
Here’s the hit from JT Ibe that got him kicked out of practice and saw Keith Kirkwood stretchered off. #Panthers
— Dean Jones (@DeanJones_) August 3, 2021
A closer look at the JT Ibe hit that took Keith Kirkwood out of practice + into an ambulance. pic.twitter.com/87JnosMrqr
— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) August 3, 2021
The Associated Press contributed to this article