Panthers upset over Burfict's ankle twists
Oct. 13, 2014
CINCINNATI (AP) — Vontaze Burfict's ankle-twisting return to the field has added to his reputation for crossing the line and put him in line to get fined again.
The Bengals' Pro Bowl linebacker was penalized for two personal fouls during a 37-37 tie with Carolina on Sunday. He also twisted the ankles of Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen after tackles.
Even though the ankle twisting wasn't penalized, the Panthers want to make sure the NFL gets involved.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said on Monday that he'll send the league video of plays that he thinks should be reviewed. Asked about what Burfict did, Rivera said, "There is no place in the game for a player doing extra stuff."
Burfict was was fined $21,000 last season for hitting Jets receiver Stephen Hill with the crown of his helmet, one of his most prominent over-the-top moments. He faces another fine for his play on Sunday.
"And I think the punishment needs to go beyond a fine," Olsen said in Carolina on Monday. "Guys like that don't learn from that stuff."
It's been his history.
Burfict wasn't drafted out of Arizona State in part because he couldn't play under control. He was repeatedly penalized and punished for personal fouls. The low point: He head-butted Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz.
The Bengals signed him after the draft in 2012 to a minimal-risk deal. He quickly emerged as one of the league's top tacklers. The Bengals made him the centerpiece of their defense and signed him to a three-year extension in August that will pay him a maximum of $20.05 million.
Even as he made the Pro Bowl last season, there were reminders of his penchant for crossing the line. He was penalized eight times last season for unnecessary roughness.
Burfict got concussions in each of the first two games this season, forcing him to miss the next two. He was back on the field Sunday and back to drawing fouls.
Burfict bumped into Newton after he threw a pass, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty in the first quarter. He got a penalty for unnecessary roughness as he tackled receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the second quarter.
The two plays that angered the Panthers came on touchdowns. Newton ran for a score, and Burfict twisted his left ankle as he rolled on the ground, prompting the quarterback — who had offseason surgery on the ankle — to kick at him. Burfict also twisted Olsen's left ankle in the end zone.
On Sunday night, Panthers kicker Graham Gano tweeted: "Unbelievable that a player would intentionally try to hurt my teammates twice. I hope the NFL lays down the law hard. #Unacceptable"
Newton was unavailable to the media on Monday. Olsen said the league needs to get involved to protect players.
"At some if the NFL wants to say it really cares about guys' safety, they need to start putting (suspending) guys out for weeks because me and Cam are lucky we weren't out for weeks, or Kelvin isn't out for weeks," Olsen said. "If you're going to start putting guys on other teams out, then the ramifications need to equal that."
Asked if he thinks Burfict is a dirty player, Olsen said, "He's a hard-nosed player and I think his style of game is what he is. I think that's why he knocks himself out half of the time."
Burfict declined to talk after the game on Sunday and again on Monday. Coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't address the linebacker's ankle-twisting other than to say: "Ankle wrenching. Sounds like the WWF."
Lewis had been concerned that Burfict would be overly hyped for his return after missing two games.
"We knew that was going to occur," Lewis said. "We tried to caution him all week about it, particularly at the end of the week, to relax and play."
Notes: Lewis said it's possible that receiver A.J. Green could practice this week. He was inactive on Sunday because of a lingering injury to his big right toe. ... Lewis was pessimistic that receiver Marvin Jones would be back anytime soon. Jones hasn't played this season because of a broken foot and a severe ankle injury. The Bengals could put him on injured reserve. ... Lewis said the Bengals won't bring in any kickers for tryouts. Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal attempt as time ran out in overtime, leaving it tied. Since making his first five attempts this season, Nugent is 6 of 12, including one blocked kick.
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte contributed to this report.
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