Panthers Head Coach Calls Out Own Player For Taunting Injured Patriot

'That's not how we want to practice'

by

August 17

FOXBORO, Mass. — Panthers safety Kenny Robinson ticked off Patriots players (especially Matthew Slater) with his actions Wednesday, and he drew the ire of his own head coach, too.

On Tuesday, an altercation involving Robinson and New England receiver Kristian Wilkerson sparked a large melee that resulted in both players being ejected along with fellow Patriots wideout Kendrick Bourne. The tensions boiled over into two additional fights.

Then, during a kickoff drill in Wednesday’s practice, Robinson delivered a huge block on Wilkerson that left the 25-year-old knocked out and motionless on the ground. With Wilkerson down, Robinson stood over and taunted him, prompting yet another scuffle between the Patriots and Panthers. After Wilkerson was carted off, the two teams ran one 11-on-11 play before a massive brawl broke out. Robinson eventually was kicked out.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule didn’t mince words when asked about Robinson after practice.

“Obviously, we sent Kenny off the field,” Rhule said. “I didn’t really see the hit, but I did see him standing over the player — and that’s not how we want to practice, right? And, so, things happen in football. There’s some good, clean hits, but we don’t stand over somebody and taunt them. (Injury) can affect their livelihood. So, we sent him off.”

Robinson has appeared in only 19 games, making one start, since Carolina took him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s considered a roster-bubble player in the Panthers secondary.

So, could Robinson be cut for his behavior in joint practices? Rhule didn’t rule it out.

“We’ll have to wait and see about everybody,” Rhule said. “I haven’t even seen the play. I saw, like, a grainy video copy. But I have to see what happened. But, you know, it’s two days now where practice was affected by a guy — so, we’ll have to talk about it, see where we are.”

Opinions were mixed on the actual hit that injured Wilkerson. Slater, who was seen shouting at Robinson after the play, felt the hit was “clean” but took serious issue with the taunting.

“(Wilkerson’s) now being medically evaluated off-site — that’s cause for concern,” Slater said. “And we’re not gonna sit here and celebrate those types of plays. That’s not how you do it.”

Safety Devin McCourty, on the other hand, had a problem with all of it.

“We’d seen our guy laid out in a period, I would say, (that’s) not really necessary for that,” McCourty said. “Put practice a little bit on the edge, which is to be expected.”

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the Patriots had not offered an update on Wilkerson’s condition.

NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

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Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images
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