FOXBORO -- Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid says he wasn't trying to hurt Benjamin Watson when he delivered a late hit to the head of the New England Patriots tight end in the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason matchup. Regardless of intent, the hit still knocked Watson out of the game.
"Just trying to stop him from getting a first down," Reid said of the play. "I looked at the replay. Yeah, he was down. We'll see what the league decides to do with it. I anticipate myself getting a fine. But I'm just playing the game."
Ben Watson leaves the field under his own power but did have his helmet taken from him. The late hit provided by Eric Reid. The two men not seeing eye to eye on Twitter this week fwiw. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/VKJK6X2U9e— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) August 23, 2019
Reid was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness on the play but remained in the game. He also noted the hit wasn't intentional, and that his head coach, Ron Rivera, confirmed the hit was late.
"I talked to Ron, he told me it was late," Reid said. "I'll look at the film. If Ron said it was late, I believe him."
Reid appeared to say something to Watson after the play. It turns out he was asking the veteran tight end if he was all right.
"I just asked him if he was OK, if he could stand up," Reid explained. "You hate to see somebody get hurt."
Watson called out Reid on Twitter earlier this week, but the Panthers safety said his hit Thursday night had nothing to do with the tight end's critical tweet.
"I didn't even know he tweeted me," Reid said. "That's not even something you process in a game. I'm not analyzing who has the ball in their hand and what they tweeted at me while I'm playing the game."
Reid's hit has no place in the game, especially in the preseason. Thursday's incident also wasn't the first time he's crossed the line. Reid was ejected from a game last November for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the head area, and there are other instances where he went over the line in regards to late contact or hits to the head area.
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