“I’m Proud To Be A Part Of That Huddle” | Panthers And Patriots Involved In Melee That Injures A Fan

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NFL joint practices during summer training camp are always hotbeds for fights. The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are no different. On Wednesday, after Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was upset with how the Patriots’ Deatrich Wise Jr. tackled him, McCaffrey threw the football at Wise and all hell broke loose.

The melee grew and involved both squads. It spilled over to an area where fans were sitting, and a woman was injured.

When asked about the brawl after practice, McCaffrey downplayed it, saying he wasn’t sure what exactly happened. “It’s football. Stuff happens,” he said. When asked about the play of his offensive line he was very complimentary and seemed to allude to the fight.

“Just knowing they have my back like that makes my job easier,” said McCaffrey. “I’m proud to be a part of that huddle.”

Wise hit McCaffrey while the latter was out of bounds, so it’s understandable that McCaffrey would get angry. Wise and Carolina backup running back Chuba Hubbard were ejected from the practice. Panthers coach Matt Rhule said an official told him Hubbard threw a punch.

It was Wise who landed on the fan during the brawl. He and McCaffrey both reached out. She suffered a swollen foot but refused medical attention. The Patriots offered her tickets to a game later this season.

Rhule also apologized for the incident, stating it took away from the good work that happened on the field.

“I’d love to be talking about two-minute [drills] right now and Sam [Darnold] scrambling and making an excellent throw,” he said. “There’s a lot of football things that matter way more to me, but distractions affect you and that’s what we can’t do.”

McCaffrey talked about the certainty of fights occurring during joint practices.

“I’ve never been a part of a joint practice where there’s not one of those,” said McCaffrey. “It’s not about how it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen.”

This is the second brawl between the Panthers and Pats this week, On Tuesday, several players, including the Pats’ Kendrick Bourne, Kristian Wilkerson, and Panthers’ Kenny Robinson, went at it.

The two teams play a preseason game on Friday, should be interesting.

As far as on the field, the Panthers have a quarterback battle between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Rhule was coy when asked.

“We have a really good plan. I just don’t feel at liberty to say right now out of respect for the guys.”

Though it looks like Mayfield is in the driver’s seat. Will improved quarterback play improve the Panthers chances this season?

Las Vegas has the Panthers at +1100 to win the NFC South and +12500 to win the Super Bowl. Good quarterback play or not, it’s still likely to be a rough season for the Panthers.

The Panthers offensive line play was horrid last year, the unit ranked 25th according to Football Outsiders. For Mayfield to be at his best and for McCaffrey to return to his All-Pro level, this unit will need to be dramatically better.