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.
Why you are delivering this kind of hit in the preseason, I know not. Nevertheless. pic.twitter.com/1KpvmoTdyR
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) August 23, 2019
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.
Earlier this week, Watson sent out a tweet disagreeing with Reid’s assessment of the league’s Players Coalition.
Quote starts with “"I could be completely wrong, but since…”
Yes @E_Reid35 you are wrong! You know the work many of us including @MalcolmJenkins have done. No one entity owns this movement. We are all a continuation of the generations who fought before us. We need each other https://t.co/C154KIvD1X
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) August 18, 2019
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.
Eric Reid said his hit on Ben Watson was not intentional. He was trying to stop him from getting a first down. He said he was not aware Watson had tweeted at him.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) August 23, 2019
Eric Reid on his hit on Ben Watson: "I was just trying to make sure I stopped him before he got to the first down. I talked to Ron (Rivera). He told me it was late. I’ll look at the film, (but) if Ron said it was late I believe him."
— Joe Person (@josephperson) August 23, 2019
Reid told reporters that he anticipates getting fined by the league.