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Panthers release CB Josh Hawkins after he was seen dancing in public without a mask

A Carolina Panthers practice squad player seen dancing in a crowded restaurant without a mask this past weekend lost his job Monday.

The Panthers released practice squad cornerback Josh Hawkins in addition to wide receiver Seth Roberts, the team announced.

Photos and video of Hawkins dancing at a Charlotte restaurant gained social media attention because of his lack of a mask.

Matt Rhule: ‘Best interest of the team’

When asked to elaborate on why Hawkins was released, head coach Matt Rhule declined.

“I would just say we thought it was in the best interest of the team,” Rhule told reporters.

Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers reacts against the New Orleans Saints during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 25, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

NFL taking hard line on COVID protocols

The Panthers have placed five players on the NFL’s COVID/reserve list this season, including two who were on it last week. The NFL is cracking down on COVID-19 protocol violations after a rash of outbreaks forced the league to reshuffle its schedule several times since Week 3.

The NFL threatened teams with the loss of draft picks or even the forfeiture of games if COVID-19 violations forced the league to continue schedule changes.

Hawkins, 27, has been in the NFL since 2016. He played 26 games in his first two seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He hasn’t been active for a game since 2018.

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