SPARTANBURG A day after losing rookie running back Tyler Gaffney, the Carolina Panthers were still a bit shaken by New England’s move to claim a player who injured his knee during his only preseason play with Carolina.
Rivera said he was surprised by the Patriots’ waiver claim, although maybe he shouldn’t have been. New England has claimed injured players three times since 2010 when teams tried to slide them through waivers.
The most recent example before Gaffney was 2012, when the Patriots claimed tight end Jake Ballard from New York when Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman worked in the Giants’ front office.
“Wow, that was a tough one,” Rivera said of the loss of Gaffney, a sixth-round pick from Stanford. “It was surprising because we had him slated to have surgery and all that. New England, I knew they liked him coming out of the draft. So they made a move.
“I’m disappointed. You’d love to be able to keep him, but you had to make a move and that’s where we are.”
A league source said Gaffney still plans to undergo surgery to repair his lateral meniscus, although the procedure has been rescheduled as he switches teams. The Panthers viewed Gaffney’s injury as season-ending.
“I’m not sure what their plans are going to be and how they’re going to do it,” Rivera said. “But our plan obviously was to do the surgery and put him on IR.”
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