Whereas Tuesday’s scuffle was rather tame, Wednesday’s resulted in a fan being injured. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was knocked to the ground while out of bounds by Patriots defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. McCaffrey responded by spiking the ball at Wise Jr.’s feet, who landed on a fan during the ensuing scrum, per ESPN. The fan suffered a swollen foot but refused medical attention from the Patriots’ medical personnel.
Wise Jr. was ejected from practice, as was Carolina’s backup running back, Chuba Hubbard. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said after practice that Hubbard threw a punch.
McCaffrey was at the heart of the scrum, but played it off after speaking to reporters after practice.
“I’ve never been a part of a joint practice where there’s not one of those,” McCaffrey said. “It’s not about how it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen.”
Possible Retaliation By Patriots Towards Panthers?
The fight broke out just one play after Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson was injured and taken to an off-site facility for evaluation. Panthers cornerback Kenny Robinson, who was ejected from Tuesday’s practice after being involved in the scrum with Wilkerson, laid a violent block on Wilkerson from the side and stood over him. He was thrown out of practice for taunting.
Patriots players were upset with Robinson, with special teams ace Matthew Slater addressing the Panthers’ sideline after it occurred. Slater spoke after practice and said he took issue with how Robinson acted after the block.
“When you have a teammate who is hit, who’s down, and there’s clear symptoms of what happened to him — we all know what that looks like as football players — and then you have players celebrating that act; I take issue with that, and I don’t have a problem saying that. That’s an issue,” Slater said. “I don’t care if it’s in a game situation, and certainly in a practice situation, that’s not OK.”
Rhule, meanwhile, took responsibility for the incident, saying it overshadowed the good things taking place on the practice field.
“I’d love to be talking about two-minute [drills] right now and Sam [Darnold] scrambling and making an excellent throw,” Rhule said. “There’s a lot of football things that matter way more to me, but distractions affect you and that’s what we can’t do.”