Matthew Slater says Panthers celebrated Kristian Wilkerson’s injury, leading to fight

The Patriots captain took the issue personally.

Matthew Slater
Matthew Slater at Patriots practice in May, 2022. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

While Kristian Wilkerson was down after a big hit that eventually led to him being carted off the field, Panthers defensive back Kenny Robinson stood over the Patriots receiver and taunted him.

Patriots captain Matthew Slater has an issue with that behavior, he told reporters after practice.

“Celebrating someone that is down and clearly in a dire situation, I personally took issue with that,” Slater said. “And I don’t want us doing it. But on the flip side of that, when somebody else is down with clear signs of symptoms of a significant injury, that’s what I took issue with and that’s why I responded the way that I did.”


Slater went over to the sideline, but wasn’t interested in fighting.

“I mean look, I ain’t fighting. I’ve got four kids, my wife’s out here,” Slater said “What do I look like? I’m 36 years old. I’m not throwing no punches.”

Panthers coach Matt Rhule wasn’t happy with Robinson’s taunting either.

“I didn’t see the hit, but I did see him standing over the player,” Rhule said. “That’s not how we want to practice. We don’t stand over someone and taunt them. That can affect their livelihood.”

Slater didn’t have an issue with the hit itself, which he he thought was clean.

“I didn’t see it, but I think it was clean, from my understanding,” Slater said. “But I don’t think we should ever celebrate when someone is down and clearly in a dire situation.”

According to Slater, Wilkerson left the stadium to be medically evaluated off-site. It’s not clear exactly what his injury is at the moment.

The situation caused the first of two fights that caused three players to be ejected from Wednesday’s practice. Robinson was ejected for the second day in a row. Patriots defensive lineman Deatrich Wise and Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard were also ejected.


Wednesday marked back-to-back practices where the Patriots and Panthers had players ejected for fighting. Wilkerson, Robinson, Kendrick Bourne, David Hoskins, and James Ferentz were ejected Tuesday. The teams close out the week Friday night with a preseason game at Gillette Stadium.


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