Carolina Panthers' Brian Burns wishes NFL DEs 'happy hunting' vs. New England Patriots' Mac Jones

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Thursday, November 11, 2021

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns isn't buyingMac Jones' explanation that the New England Patriots quarterback was trying to tackle and not injure him after a sack Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

He all but put a target on the 15th pick of the 2021 draft when asked how he wanted the situation, being reviewed by the NFL for a possible fine, to turn out.

"It would be nice to have an apology, but it's not going to happen," Burns said Wednesday, the first time he has addressed the play. "However the NFL handles it, it's on them. I would just like to play them again.

"I wish all my fellow D-end brothers happy hunting. That's all."

Jones was asked Wednesday whether he thought about reaching out to Burns to apologize.

"I already addressed that situation," he said. "I'm just looking forward to playing in this game with the guys we have on our team this week. So we're already kind of moving forward and ready to play this week."

The play occurred near the end of the first quarter of Carolina's 24-6 loss. After Burns took Jones down on a strip-sack, the quarterback grabbed Burns' right ankle and held on as the end tried to escape.

With Burns down on the field holding his ankle and with Carolina linebacker Frankie Luvu recovering the fumble more than 10 yards away, Jones got up and walked away.

Jones said on Monday in his weekly interview on WEEI radio in Boston that he thought Burns had the ball and that "it's my job to try to make the tackle."

Carolina edge rusher Haason Reddick called the play "completely dirty" Sunday. Burns, after watching the replay and then studying it from every angle available, agreed.

"I thought it was some bull at first for him to grab my ankle in the first place," Burns said. "After watching the video and ... him just walking away, everything didn't seem right about it. I'm down there in pain; he just looked at me and walked off like he did his job or some bull like that.

"After seeing that, that's when I realized, 'Damn!'"

Burns later in the game rolled the ankle again and had to be helped off the field a second time. He did not practice Wednesday, and his status for Sunday's game at Arizona is in question.

Coach Matt Rhule said his edge rusher would be a game-time decision, but Burns expects to play.

Burns laughed when asked whether he had heard from Jones or Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"No," he said. "Not at all. They're not going to hook me up."

Burns also hasn't heard from the league.

"They can do what they please with the video," he said. "It's clear to see he held on to my ankle, swept my leg, twisted my ankle, whatever you want to call it."

Even Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, who typically avoids controversy, questioned Jones' motives.

"I thought it was pretty suspect," he said.

Since Sunday, Burns was reminded that Jones "nudged" one of his American Heritage teammates after Burns sacked him in a high school game. Both players grew up in Florida, Burns in the Fort Lauderdale area and Jones in Jacksonville.

"I didn't even know I played him in high school," Burns said with a laugh.

Burns won't forget Jones after Sunday.

"As soon as I sacked him, he grabbed my arm," he said. "And my arm was trapped. Once I got my arm free and tried to run, obviously he grabbed my ankle. At that point I just remember going down with my ankle hurting.

"Everybody else ran past us. If I had the ball, don't you think I would be being tackled or your teammates would help? I don't think it's cool."

ESPN's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

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