After a frightening moment in the Carolina Panthers' practice Tuesday when wide receiver Keith Kirkwood took a helmet-to-helmet hit from safety J.T. Ibe, coach Matt Rhule described Ibe's blow as "unacceptable."
So unacceptable that Ibe, an undrafted rookie free agent who played collegiately at South Carolina, was waived after practice.
Kirkwood was attempting to catch a high pass, leaping just before Ibe knocked him to the ground. The good news: Kirkwood was moving his arms and legs as he was taken off the field in a cart and loaded into an ambulance.
"(Kirkwood) had movement in his legs. Didn't have any pain in his neck. A lot of that obviously is precautionary," Rhule said after practice. "We'll wait to see after he's looked at, what exactly it is. That was just the early signs."
Kirkwood returned to the Panthers' facility after being diagnosed with a concussion, according to team reporter Darin Gantt.
Ibe expressed his remorse for the hit on Kirkwood.
"I just felt bad," said Ibe, via the Charlotte Observer. "I looked at him when I landed, and I just felt bad. I asked the trainers to tell him I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hit him like that. It wasn't intentional at all and I'm praying he's OK.
"Obviously, I'm in an emotional state right now, but at the end of the day it's not about me -- it's about Keith being OK."
Kirkwood, a Panthers reserve trying to reach his fourth year in the NFL, played in just one game for Carolina last season.