Panthers Wesley suspended one game without pay for hit on Smith
The NFL has suspended Carolina defensive back Dante Wesley one-game without pay for his illegal hit on Bucs punt returner Clifton Smith.
Wesley launched his forearm into Smith's throat as he waited to field a punt late in the first half of Sunday's 28-21 loss to the Panthers.
Smith said he lost consciousness for a minute and suffered a concussion as a result of the play. He left the field under his own power but suffered a concussion and had trouble speaking above a whisper or swallowing following the game.
Wesley, who was penalized for interference and ejected from the game, was suspended a game for what the league termed a 'flagrant violation.' Wesley will miss the Panthers game against Buffalo on Sunday.
In a letter to Wesley, NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson wrote: “The playing rules (Rule 10, Section 1, Article 1) specifically provide that a member of the kicking team is prohibited from interfering with a receiver attempting to catch an airborne kick. The prohibited contact in this case went well beyond simply interfering with the receiver. Instead, by striking your defenseless opponent in the head and neck area, you committed an unnecessary and unnecessarily dangerous act that is specifically prohibited by the rules.”
Anderson added: “Your actions are of particular concern in light of the emphasis that our office has placed on developing and enforcing rules designed to protect players from injury, including head and neck injuries. The safety of our players is paramount to all of us in the NFL.”