Tuesday morning, a scary situation unfolded at Panthers training camp when wide receiver Keith Kirkwood went up to reel in a pass from Sam Darnold over the middle of the field and safety J.T. Ibe delivered a blow to the head.
Practice was put on pause for roughly 10-15 minutes while trainers and other medical personnel attended to the injured Kirkwood, who was carted off the field to an ambulance. Shortly following the illegal hit, the Panthers removed Ibe from the practice field. Moments later, the team announced that they had waived Ibe.
Did the Panthers do the right thing by cutting Ibe? Here's what our staff thinks:
In training camp, guys on the fringe can’t make mistakes like J.T. Ibe did. That being said, if a highly valued player made that same mistake, they wouldn’t be cut. Reprimanded, sure. Even with contract status aside, it just wouldn’t happen. They might get fined or suspended by the team or however the team felt they needed to deal with it, but they definitely wouldn’t be axed immediately. Ibe was easy to let go, with all things considered. He wasn’t a player Carolina couldn’t live without - plain and simple.
I’ll never knock a team for trying to set a precedence for player’s safety. If coach Rhule and the Panthers believe that Ibe crossed the line, then they have the right to cut ties. Training camp battles can get heated quickly and this might be Carolina’s early warning to establish what will and won’t be tolerated at practice. They must have believed that this particular hit was not accidental to waive Ibe right away. “There are 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. It’s undisciplined by us.” Rhule told reporters after news broke that Ibe had been waived. Safe to say players will be much more disciplined going forward in camp.
Ibe is a guy fighting for his football career as a fringe roster addition. I understand he is trying to make plays in which he tries to stand out to the coaching staff. However, a high hit on your own teammate simply is not the way to do this. I think the swift action by the Carolina Panthers was just. It was also a message to the entire organization that this is a team, and teammates don’t do that to one another. If a starting secondary player would have done the same thing, I would be more expecting of fines, rather than being cut. This cut allows Ibe to reflect and hopefully, find his way to another roster.
If Jeremy Chinn did the same thing, he definitely would not have been reprimanded. It feels like the Panthers' tried to make an example out of Ibe, but as a guy on the fringes of the roster, he was the perfect scapegoat in the situation. Headhunting teammates (intentionally or not) is never a good thing, but cutting Ibe after one incident is definitely a strong message from the coaching staff that they're not going to deal with anything that hurts the team in training camp. My gut feels bad for Ibe, but my brain understands why the Panthers' did what they did.
Personally, I think it was a little harsh. This team and the league are a business, so I understand the ability to do such a thing, but I also believe that the play wasn't intentional and things on the football field happen. We don't know if this is just a means to carry out what was expected? Was he on the fringe anyway? We may never know. What's done is done and we move on, but my first reaction was, whoa, that's kinda harsh.
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