SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Carolina Panthers wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was hit in the neck area during practice Tuesday, carted off the field and taken away by ambulance. The player who struck him was kicked out of practice and waived.

Kirkwood sustained a concussion, was released from the hospital and is back with the team on the Wofford College campus, a Panthers spokesman said.

Coach Matt Rhule called the hit by rookie cornerback J.T. Ibe “unacceptable.”

“It’s obviously precautionary and we will wait and see after he’s looked at what exactly (the injury) is,” Rhule said after the team’s first padded practice. “That was just the early signs. … I’m anxious to see what they say.”

Ibe spoke to The Charlotte Observer in an exclusive interview and expressed his remorse about the hit. He said he didn’t intend to hurt Kirkwood.

“I was so in the moment, I didn’t even realize it,” Ibe said Tuesday, minutes after the Panthers waived him. “I just saw the ball and him and I wanted to interrupt it. It wasn’t me aiming for his head. It was just me trying to jar the ball out.”

Rhule was clearly upset when talking about the play by Ibe. The collision halted practice for more than 10 minutes as the medical staff tended to Kirkwood on the field. Rhule gathered the players on an adjacent field and spoke to them while Kirkwood was placed in the ambulance.

“It’s completely unacceptable to do something like that,” Rhule said. “There are bang-bang plays that will happen and guys will hit the ground, but you can’t tee off on somebody. That’s not what we do and that is undisciplined by us and can’t happen.”

Ibe said those weren’t his intentions, and he planned to contact Kirkwood.

“I want to contact Keith and tell him I’m sorry,” Ibe said. “I’m praying for his success and his health, and call Coach Rhule, Coach (Jason) Simmons and Scott Fitterer and just thank them for my time with the team and giving me this opportunity, honestly. “I just want everybody out there just to know I’m a good dude and this is not my game. I’m not a dirty player, I don’t have any dirty hits on my record. I just feel bad.”

Ibe spent four seasons at Rice and two seasons at South Carolina and was trying to make the Panthers roster as an undrafted free agent. He had signed with Carolina in April.

Kirkwood twice broke his clavicle last season and was limited to one catch for 13 yards in one regular-season game. He played his first two seasons for the New Orleans Saints and also played for Rhule at Temple.

COLTS: Three-time All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson was added to the injury list Tuesday after suffering the same foot injury as new quarterback Carson Wentz, who had a fragment from the metatarsal bone removed Monday. Nelson was scheduled to undergo the same procedure with the same doctor Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Both are expected to miss five to 12 weeks, putting their availability for the Sept. 12 season opener against Seattle in jeopardy.

There was one significant difference in the diagnosis: Wentz’s injury appeared to be the result of an old injury that flared up when he planted his foot for a throw last Thursday while Nelson’s, Coach Frank Reich said, appeared to be the result of a condition he was born with. He got hurt Monday when a teammate apparently stepped on his foot.

Nelson didn’t miss a start in his first three NFL seasons while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors every year. Nelson is widely regarded as the NFL’s most dominant guard and has been a key component in making Indy’s offensive line one of the league’s best since General Manager Chris Ballard traded back three spots and selected Nelson at No. 6 overall pick in 2018.

GIANTS: Coach Joe Judge unleashed a torrent of obscenities and ran his Giants players into the ground after Xavier McKinney, Evan Engram and Logan Ryan ignited a team-wide brawl. Quarterback Daniel Jones ended up at the bottom of the pile and had to be pulled out by left guard Kenny Wiggins and defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Fortunately the QB was no worse for wear.

“I was fine,” Jones assured. “I was all good, no problem.”

Judge was incensed at players for losing their cool on their first day in pads, however, including Engram and Ryan, who are supposed to be two of Judge’s veteran leaders. So the coach made the entire team run sprints from end zone to end zone for about 20 minutes. And he had them do two sets of 30 pushups on the goal line, all while cursing them out.

“Joe’s the leader of this team,” Ryan said. “He’s got everyone’s respect. And what he says goes.”

McKinney, the second-year safety, started it with an over-aggressive hit on running back Corey Clement on the second level. McKinney dropped Clement to the turf. The hit was late and harder than defenders were supposed to deliver.

Engram escalated it by coming to Clement’s defense and hitting McKinney to the ground. Then Ryan crossed the line with a vicious hit to the back of Engram’s neck. That set off a wave of fists and tackles and punches, causing a pile-up that Jones joined in his non-contact red jersey.

JETS: Offensive lineman Cameron Clark was taken to a hospital by ambulance after injuring his neck during practice Tuesday.

The team had no immediate word on his status. The 23-year-old Clark, a fourth-round draft pick last year out of Charlotte, went down during team drills. He didn’t appear to be moving before trainers and medical personnel rushed to him.

Coach Robert Saleh was unclear how the injury occurred. He said the team doctors told him Clark did have “some” movement, but “as far as the details and all that stuff, we’re going to wait for further evaluation.” Clark was put on what appeared to be a spinal board and then carted to an ambulance at the side of the field.

TEXANS: Deshaun Watson missed practice for the first time since Houston Texans’ camp began, but Coach David Culley refused to explain why.

“Nothing new on Deshaun,” he said.

Watson was on the field for the team’s first five practices but only participated in individual drills while the other three quarterbacks took snaps during team drills. On Tuesday that changed when he did not take the field when the team donned pads for the first time this year and he was not seen during the almost two-hour practice.

Watson’s future is uncertain after he asked for a trade in January before 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them in March. Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, but no charges have been filed.

When pressed about why Watson was absent from practice after being out there every other day, Culley refused to provide any details.

“As I’ve said before, we’re day-to-day with him,” Culley said. “The only thing that’s changed from the standpoint of that is that we make a decision day-to-day based on what’s best for our football team and I’m going to leave it at that.”

Watson still wishes to be traded and reported to training camp solely to avoid being fined. He would have faced fines of $50,000 a day if he didn’t report.

VIKINGS: Cornerback Jeff Gladney was indicted by a Texas grand jury for felony assault of a woman he was previously in a relationship with, and the team released him about five hours later.

Gladney, a first-round draft pick last year out of TCU, started 15 games as a rookie. He had not been around the team since his arrest in April in Dallas.

He’s charged with domestic violence by impeding breathing, for “intentionally, knowingly and recklessly” causing bodily injury and applying pressure to the alleged victim’s neck and throat, according to the indictment. The altercation grew out of an argument and took place over a span of more than two hours, according to a civil suit recently filed against Gladney by the former girlfriend. She also alleged in the suit he tried to bribe and intimidate her into keeping quiet.

No court date has been scheduled yet.

BROWNS: Starting middle linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. will not need surgery but is expected to miss an extended period with a right knee injury sustained on a noncontact play in training camp.

Coach Kevin Stefanski said Tuesday that Walker, one of Cleveland’s biggest free agency acquisitions, dodged an operation. Stefanski did not provide a definitive time frame for the 25-year-old’s return.

“It’s a week-plus,” he said. “But we’ll see.”

SAINTS: The New Orleans Saints are bringing back outside linebacker and former LSU standout Kwon Alexander, who spent the offseason rehabilitating an Achilles injury from last December.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed to The Associated Press that Alexander signed a one-year contract worth up to $3 million, the 2017 Pro Bowler’s 27th birthday. ESPN first reported the deal.

Alexander started 12 games in 2020 – five for San Francisco before being traded to New Orleans, where he made seven starts. Alexander made 57 solo or assisted tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, broke up four passes and had one sack last season.

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