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Carolina Panthers roster suffers first casualty after unacceptable hit during practice

The weather in Spartanburg cooperated - cloudy overcast skies with mild temperatures ushered in the first Carolina Panthers practice in full pads. But the first day in pads quickly resulted in the first casualty for the Panthers offense. Keith Kirkwood went down after a hit to the head area by rookie saftey J.T. Ibe.

There was a temporary stoppage in practice as the team doctor and trainers attended to Kirkwood. After assessment, Kirkwood was place on a backboard and carted away to an awaiting ambulance for further care.

"I don't want anyone to get hurt," Rhule said. "Anytime a player gets hurt it bothers me, whether it's something like that or a guy pulls his hamstring. I just recognize how much work these guys put in and how important this time is for them. Everybody, whether it's a guy like Keith I coached in college or a guy that just got here a week ago.

"As a man, as a person I don't like seeing anyone laying there in pain or hurting or just missing reps or battling through it. I can't stand those things. But injuries do happen in football. But it's important to me that when our players do get banged up, . . . they know their value to me and us is not just what they do on the field. We care about who they are."

According to a report by the Carolina Panthers organization, Kirkwood is back on campus. The injured Panther is reported to have suffered a concussion.

Ibe was dismissed from the team following practice after the hit was deemed unacceptable by Rhule and his coaching staff.

Linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback A.J. Bouye were wearing red jerseys Tuesday morning, but they were on the field.


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