By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Late in the first quarter of Thursday’s preseason game between the Patriots and the Panthers, Tom Brady completed a pass to Benjamin Watson in a game for the first time since 2009.

There was little time for sentimentality, though, as Watson was hit with a cheap shot to the head as soon as he hit the turf.

Watson caught the pass along the right sideline and was brought down by Javien Elliott. After hitting the turf, Panthers safety Eric Reid delivered a diving blow to the head of Watson.

Watson remained down on the turf for several moments before drawing the attention of the medical staff and making his way to the sideline.

Reid was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

Earlier this week, Watson sent out a tweet disagreeing with Reid’s assessment of the league’s Players Coalition.

Watson is part of the task force for the Players Coalition.

Watson, 38, is entering his 15th NFL season. He played five seasons for the Patriots after getting drafted by New England in the first round of the 2004 draft. He played three years with Cleveland, one year with Baltimore and four years with New Orleans, before coming out of retirement to rejoin the Patriots this past offseason. He’ll sit out the first four weeks of the season due to a PED suspension.

Watson left the game to be examined on the sideline, before making his way to the locker room for further evaluation. He did not return.

Watson is part of a tight end group that will try to replace the production and run blocking provided last season by Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. That group includes Watson, Ryan Izzo, Lance Kendricks, Matt LaCosse, Andrew Beck, Eric Saubert and Stephen Anderson.

UPDATE: Reid spoke about the hit after the game.

Reid told reporters that he anticipates getting fined by the league.

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