This past Tuesday was the sixth training camp practice and the first in pads for the Carolina Panthers and like Darrin Gant said in panthers.com’s newsletter Training Camp Daily, it was an “interesting” day. Fourth-year wide receiver Keith Kirkwood suffered a concussion after a blindside hit from rookie safety J.T. Ibe. Practice was stopped, Kirkwood was carted off the field and carried to a Spartanburg hospital, and Ibe was immediately kicked off the field and then waived by the team.
Kirkwood, who played for coach Matt Rhule at Temple, leapt in the air to try and catch a pass from back-up quarterback P.J. Walker when J.T. Ibe, coming from the other direction, collided with a forearm, shoulder pads, and his helmet to the WR’s head. The illegal hit, which would have certainly garnered a defenseless receiver penalty in a real game, put Keith Kirkwood on his back and neck. Trainers and teammates gathered around him in silence until he was put on a backboard and taken to a nearby ambulance.
Coach Rhule called the hit “Completely unacceptable. There’s bang-bang plays that happen, and guys will hit the ground, but you can’t tee off on somebody. It’s not what we’ll do.” The Panthers head man added that beyond anything else, he wanted to make sure that players kept each other safe. Kirkwood only played in one game last year due to multiple collar bone injuries. Beyond the concussion diagnosis, things seem to be positive for the wideout. He still had movement in his limbs and no pain in his neck area.
After a twelve-minute break, the guys resumed practice. That’s an unfortunate part of football. Guys get hurt, sometimes severely so, but the show must go on. I’m just glad to know that an injury that could have been a lot worse, wasn’t. Hopefully the Panthers, and the league can avoid these kind of incidents during the season.