Matt Rhule says early signs are positive after Keith Kirkwood leaves practice on ambulance

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Any time a player leaves practice in an ambulance it’s a scary situation, but Panthers coach Matt Rhule indicated that the team is optimistic after wide receiver Keith Kirkwood had to be taken to the hospital this morning.

Rhule said after practice that Kirkwood had movement in his legs and no pain in his neck, and that early signs are positive, according to Darin Gantt of the team’s website.

Kirkwood went down after teammate J.T. Ibe hit him in the head. Rhule called the hit Ibe delivered “unacceptable” and wouldn’t comment on the status of Ibe’s future employment.

The 27-year-old Kirkwood played for Rhule at Temple and signed with the Panthers last year, a couple months after the Panthers hired Rhule. Kirkwood played only one game last year because he broke his collarbone twice, but Rhule has indicated he thinks Kirkwood can contribute if he’s healthy.

Ibe is an undrafted rookie who wasn’t likely to make the team anyway and may now find that a hit on the practice field will get him cut a month earlier than he would have.