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Patriots WR Concussion - And Odd ‘Celebration’: Practice Report

New England Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson was carted off the field following a blindside hit from Panthers safety Kenny Robinson in joint practice on Wednesday.

FOXBORO — New England Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson will apparently be out of action for the foreseeable future.

After absorbing a crushing hit from Carolina Panthers safety Kenny Robinson during a kick-coverage drill on the second day of joint practices between the two teams. Wilkerson was carted off the field to be evaluated for a head injury.

On Wednesday night, The Athletic reported that Wilkerson had indeed suffered a concussion, and would immediately be placed in the league’s protocol.

Though Robinson’s hit appeared to be clean, his actions immediately following were unfortunate.

Despite Wilkerson obviously having been injured on the play, Robinson stood over the Pats wideout in what appeared to be a combination of both celebration and taunt as he lay on the ground.

As one might imagine, Robinson’s grandstanding did not sit too well with the Patriots’ players on the field, or on the sideline. On the ensuing play, a brawl erupted between the two teams, for the second straight day. During Tuesday’s practice, five players were ejected after a skirmish erupted between New England’s offensive line and Carolina’s defensive line. Three players were tossed from Wednesday’s practice

While tensions are obviously at a fever pitch between both teams, New England’s emotions were stirred on Wednesday by concern over their teammate’s health. Several Patriots objected to the manner with which Robinson handled the situation — including special teams captain Matthew Slater, who voiced his displeasure to reporters at the conclusion of practice.

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“Everybody that plays at this level understands when a guy is out — they know what that looks like,” Slater said. “I don’t think that’s a time to celebrate. I really don’t … when you have a teammate, he’s hit, he’s down, there are clear symptoms of what has happened to him … and then you have players celebrating that act, I take issue with that. I don’t care if it’s in a game situation and certainly in a practice situation, that’s not OK.”

Slater reiterated that neither he nor the Patriots had an issue with Robinson’s hit. Rather their harsh reaction was in direct response for what they perceived to be a lack of respect for what had the potential to be a very serious injury.

“I don’t have a problem with the hit. I didn’t see it but I think it was clean, from my understanding,” Slater expressed. “[The] guy is working, he’s trying to make their team, he’s trying to compete, he’s doing what he’s coached. We have no issue with it.’

“But when you see a guy down the way that Kristian was down, and you see guys responding the way that certain guys were responding — I’ve been in this game a long time and that’s not how you do it.”

Logistically, Wilkerson’s absence does create a void in the Patriots wide receiver corps. Since joining the Pats in 2020, Wilkerson has been a mainstay on the team’s practice squad. The SE Missouri State product put on an impressive performance in the Pats’ 50-10 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 17 in 2021. In his most productive game as a pro, Wilkerson logged four receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns.

Thus far, the 25-year-old has performed well during training camp in 2022. He also showcased his impressive skill set during the Pats preseason opener against the New York Giants last Thursday. Though he faces significant competition at the position, he projects best in an X-Receiver role to carve out a spot on the Patriots 53-man roster.

The Patriots and Panthers will be off on Thursday, before meeting on Friday for their second preseason matchup. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.