Safety J.T. Ibe was waived by the Panthers today after landing “an illegal hit to the head” of teammate Keith Kirkwood, reports ESPN’s David Newton. The hit took place during the team’s first padded practice.
Matt Rhule immediately kicked Ibe out of practice, with Joe Person of The Athletic describing the head coach as “incensed.”
“It’s completely unacceptable, something like that,” Rhule later said (via Person). “There’s things, bang-bang plays that happen, and guys will hit the ground. But you can’t tee off on somebody. So that’s not what we’ll do. It’s undisciplined by us, so it can’t happen.”
The team ultimately decided to move on from the Rice/South Carolina product, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent back in April. The 25-year-old was quick to apologize for his actions (while also making it clear that he’s not a dirty player).
“I feel terrible for the play,” Ibe wrote in a statement (via Person on Twitter). “I’m glad Keith is doing fine, but as a teammate, I’m supposed to protect my brothers during practice, and I didn’t do that today, and I let the team and coaches down.”
Following the hit, Kirkwood was sent to the hospital via ambulance. The wideout was later released to team physicians and diagnosed with a concussion. The 26-year-old spent most of the 2020 season on the Panthers injured reserve.