Carolina Panthers defensive back Jairus Byrd talks about joining the team. Byrd has experience with the NFL's Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers defensive back Jairus Byrd talks about joining the team. Byrd has experience with the NFL's Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Inside the Panthers

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Inside the Panthers

Turf wars: Panthers unhappy about Patriots’ soft turf, say it contributed to an injury

October 04, 2017 04:04 PM

UPDATED October 04, 2017 05:06 PM

The NFL players union took exception with the new turf at Gillette Stadium before the Panthers played at New England last weekend.

After at least one player was injured on a non-contact play during their 33-30 victory, the Panthers say they don’t like it, either.

Safety Demetrious Cox, who sprained his ankle during the Patriots’ offensive series, blamed the artificial surface on the injury that has left his status for this week’s game at Detroit in question.

“They’ve got a new turf. I think my foot just got caught in the turf funny and then it twisted,” Cox said Wednesday. “It was really soft. Guys kept saying that their feet were getting caught. ... It was kind of weird.”

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The Patriots put in new synthetic turf before the season, then tore it out and replaced after their Week 1 loss to Kansas City.

The NFLPA sent a team to Foxborough to study the field recently, concerned the soft surface could lead to lower-body injuries.

Panthers kicker Graham Gano said his foot was catching on the turf on kickoffs more than it does on grass and other artificial playing surfaces.

“It’s not a great field. But I understand because they play in cold weather it’s got to be a little bit different,” Gano said. “From what I heard they have to put a lot more sand in it so it doesn’t freeze during the winter. But it wasn’t the most ideal conditions. You could tell it was a new field.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera also heard the complaints from his players.

“I can’t tell you because I didn’t play (on) it. But just listening to the guys’ responses, they weren’t happy about having to play on the turf,” he said.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson