Fox sheds some light on Wesley's hit

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

I was listening to Sirius NFL Radio while driving this afternoon when something very unique happened. Carolina coach John Fox actually said something interesting.

I wish I hadn’t been driving because I wanted to write down what Fox said because that’s something that usually wasn’t worth doing in the six seasons I covered him as a beat reporter (although Fox is a very gregarious guy once the cameras and microphones go off).

Anyway, I’ll have to paraphrase what Fox said, but he shed some light on what happened in Sunday’s game when Dante Wesley blasted Tampa Bay punt returner Clifton Smith. Wesley was penalized, ejected and suspended for one game by the NFL.

Fox first made it clear that he wasn’t making excuses for Wesley and what the player did was wrong. But Fox provided some background on why Wesley might have hit Smith as he was lining up to attempt to field a punt.

Fox said on the previous punt, Smith had given a bit of a wave, although he didn’t call a fair catch. That wave was enough to cause Wesley, who was clear of blockers to slow down. Fox said Wesley was angry at himself for slowing down (and maybe he heard a little of that from the coaching staff?)

Fox said that stayed in Wesley’s mind on the next punt and might have caused him to be too aggressive.