Panthers Assistant Coach Pushes Patriots WR, Ignites Fight: Report

Getty Carolina Panthers

Things got out of hand at the New England Patriots-Carolina Panthers inter-squad game on Tuesday, August 17, and an assistant from Matt Rhule’s team may have been the person who kicked off the fracas.

Per the scrimmage notes from ESPN’s Mike Reiss and the account of NBC Sports’ Phil A. Perry, an unnamed Panthers assistant coach, nudged Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson causing a major brawl between the two teams.

Perry gives his account of the situation at the 10-minute mark of the video below.

Testiness during scrimmages isn’t new. The Patriots had one between their own players on August 9 that involved Christian Barmore and David Andrews. When the inter-squad scrimmages begin, the testiness can go up another notch.

However, things go to the next level when a coach makes contact with a player. As Perry described in the video, the “slight nudge” from the Panthers’ assistant resulted in a swift and harsh reaction from Wilkerson. Players are not accustomed to becoming physical with assistants, and it is possible the shove caught Wilkerson off guard.

It will be interesting to see if Panthers head coach Matt Rhule publicly addresses his assistant’s behavior or if the incident will be dealt with internally.

Will Wilkerson Make the 53-Man Roster?

The Patriots may have a bit of a gem in Wilkerson. After having some promising moments in 2021, as he finished the year with 4 receptions for 42 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 targets, in just three games (one start). Wilkerson is seemingly hitting his stride this offseason.

He was a factor in the joint practice, and during the preseason opener against the New York Giants, Wilkerson had a game-high 8 receptions for 99 yards. Beyond DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and rookie Tyquan Thornton, the rest of the Patriots’ WR picture had been a little unclear.

However, it seems Wilkerson may be moving toward locking up a fifth spot in the WR room.

Patriots Notes & Quotes

  • Malcolm Butler and Joejuan Williams Land on IR

New England’s depth at cornerback took a major hit on Tuesday. The team announced veteran corner Malcolm Butler and third-year man Joejuan Williams were placed on season-ending injured reserve. The Patriots still have eight corners on their roster, but two of the more experienced veterans who were most acquainted with the team’s system are now gone.

  • James White’s Retirement Ceremony

Bill Belichick and several players were on hand for a retirement ceremony for James White. The fan favorite announced his retirement last week, and the Patriots honored him after the scrimmage against the Panthers.

Belichick was very complimentary of the former Super Bowl hero. White had been on the physically unable to perform list since just before the start of training camp. He’d suffered a serious hip injury during a Week 3 loss to the New Orleans Saints last year and hadn’t been healthy enough to return to the field.

Rather than creating a difficult roster decision for the Patriots later this season, White decided to call it a career, and the organization ensured he was sent off in style.

Read More