FOXBOROUGH — It was another day of football and feuding as the Patriots and Panthers wrapped up two days of joint practices Wednesday morning.
Things got heated after Patriots receiver Kristian Wilkerson was crunched and injured on a blindside hit from Carolina’s Kenny Robinson during an early kickoff drill.
As Wilkerson lay crumpled on the turf, Robinson stood over him, and New England players and staff took exception. Panthers players rushed to pull Robinson away as the Patriots charged toward him.
Wilkerson and Robinson were at the center of Tuesday’s first big brawl, and both were ejected. In all, five players were ejected that day.
Longtime Patriots captain Matthew Slater said after Wednesday’s practice that he didn’t have an issue with the hit, but Robinson’s post-play stance bothered him.
“I don’t think we should ever celebrate when someone is down and clearly in a dire situation,” said Slater. “I personally take issue with that.”
It also bothered Carolina coach Matt Rhule.
“I didn’t really see the hit, but I did see him standing over the player, and that’s not how we want to practice,” Rhule said. “Things happen in football. There were some good clean hits, but we don’t stand over somebody and taunt them.”
Rhule bounced Robinson from practice and said the team will review footage of the hit. He left open the possibility that Robinson could be cut.
After being attended to by the medical staff, Wilkerson was taken to the blue tent before eventually being carted to the locker room with an undisclosed ailment.
One play later, Deatrich Wise Jr. leveled Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey and the running back popped up and fired the football, hitting Patriots linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
A melee broke out and players from both practice fields charged toward the Carolina sideline.
Wise, who was ejected, was shoved by several Panthers and landed near the first row of bleachers, where his helmet hit a woman in the foot. The fan refused medical attention and was offered tickets to a future home game.
Carolina’s Chuba Howard was ejected as well, as officials told Rhule the running back was throwing punches during the uprising.
“It is what it is, just a little scrum,” said McCaffrey. “Football is football.”
Rhule and Patriots coach Bill Belichick called their teams over after the outburst, and there were no more incidents, just some minor jawing.
“Everyone’s competitive, and sometimes that’s how it gets out here,” said Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. “The big thing is, it’s football and we’re here to practice and try to have a good day. The coaches handled it properly, just calling up the teams.”
Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield was among many players on both sides who reiterated that these sessions are about playing, not fighting.
“Pads are popping in these joint practices; stuff like that happens,” said Mayfield, who joked that he “used my MMA training” to help settle things down.
“It’s all about just focusing on playing between the whistles. You’ve got to protect your guys, but at the same time, let’s be smart. We’re all out here doing our job. Let’s not hurt each other.”
Not participating: TE Hunter Henry (undisclosed), OTs Isaiah Wynn (undisclosed) and Justin Herron (undisclosed), OLs Yasir Durant (undisclosed), Bill Murray (undisclosed), and Andrew Stueber (nonfootball injury list).
TE Dalton Keene (undisclosed) was more active than he’s been in a week but would still be classified as limited.
Center David Andrews was dinged late in the workout and replaced by James Ferentz. It didn’t look too worrisome.
Carolina receiver Derek Wright was shaken up after absorbing a huge open-field hit from safety Brenden Schooler.
DRESS CODE: Full pads
Jones zipped a ball between Carolina defenders Myles Hartsfield and Jeremy Chinn to Nelson Agholor for a touchdown during the full-team period.
“Mac gave me an opportunity, put the ball in the air, and I just went and got it,” said Agholor. “The quarterback gives you an opportunity, you’ve got to do whatever to go get it. It’s you or nobody.”
▪ Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones undercut a Mayfield pass intended for Stephen Sullivan for an interception.
▪ Mac Jones had a dandy of a pass to Ty Montgomery during one-on-ones, placing the ball just over Duke Dawson and into his running back’s hands.
▪ Lawrence Guy had a “sack” on Mayfield.
▪ Brian Hoyer dropped a dime over two defenders in the end zone for a touchdown to Lil’Jordan Humphrey. It was Hoyer’s best pass of camp.
▪ Rookie Bailey Zappe had one of the best throws of camp, threading the needle between Panthers defenders Damien Wilson and Juston Burris on a TD pass to Tre Nixon.
▪ Carolina corner Jaycee Horn shined in the individual drills, first breaking up a Jones pass to Kendrick Bourne, then picking off a Hoyer toss to Humphrey.
ODDS AND ENDS
Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona switched from football gear to his military fatigues at the end of practice. A lieutenant in the US Naval Reserves, Cardona presided over a reenlistment ceremony for two sailors from the Newport Naval Station. Players from both teams gathered around the sailors and many gave them high fives.
FACES ON THE FIELD
▪ Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
▪ Patriots alums Tedy Bruschi and Dan Koppen. Koppen spent some time with Andrews talking shop.
▪ Former Panthers receiver Steve Smith. The three-time All-Pro caught up with New England linebacker Matthew Judon for a brief time. They were Ravens teammates in 2016.
Thursday: Off day.
Friday: Exhibition Game 2 vs. Panthers, 7 p.m.