GREEN BAY, Wis. — In a span of less than five minutes, there were five physical altercations between Green Bay Packers teammates during Wednesday’s training camp practice. Some of that is to be expected and is relatively commonplace in the NFL. When multiple punches were thrown, however, coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t pleased.
“It’s not very smart,” McCarthy said. “Just punching a man when he’s wearing a helmet, that’s not the smartest thing.”
McCarthy was referring to a fight between tight end Jermichael Finley and undrafted rookie linebacker Jarvis Reed. Finley and Reed squared off and started punching each other repeatedly in the helmet and facemask area. After a few shots were landed, defensive lineman Johnny Jolly ran in and shoulder-blocked Finley out of the way, escalating the situation a bit further as other players got involved.
“I think there’s a lot of fatigue, and when you have that fatigue, that stuff comes out,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Guys are grumpy and just don’t want to take any of that extra stuff. It’s part of camp. Some people like it more than others.
“I’d rather not have our guys punching each other in the helmet, hurting their hands. So, hopefully that nonsense is over with.”
The skirmishes began with starting offensive lineman T.J. Lang and rookie linebacker Sam Barrington, whose helmet came off as the two battled well after the whistle. Linebacker Terrell Manning and offensive lineman Garth Gerhart then got into a scuffle a couple plays later. Next up were linebacker Robert Francois and offensive lineman Greg Van Roten, both of them swinging away. It wasn’t clear if offensive lineman Josh Sitton and outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene were joking or not, but even the two of them seemed to exchange heated words.
None of those confrontations reached the point that the one with Finley and Reed did, though.
One of the team’s most aggressive players, defensive lineman Mike Daniels — who somewhat surprisingly had no part in any of Wednesday’s fights — thinks this was a good sign for the Packers.
“I might put this over my name at my locker: If we are willing to get after each other like that, I can only imagine what we’d do against somebody else,” Daniels told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. “Some guys are like, ‘Hey, I appreciate the intensity, but let’s be a little smarter.’ But then, hey, no hard feelings. It’s football. If there isn’t any chippiness, if nobody’s getting frustrated at anybody, if it’s just happy-go-lucky during camp, I don’t know about that. But if guys are not afraid to just let it go on the field, then they won’t hold back in the game; within the confines of the rules.”
Daniels didn’t see Finley and Reed come to blows, but he wasn’t surprised.
“A lot of times when we see guys throw haymakers, probably about two guys are seriously about to fight and maybe about four or five other guys that might get serious, and then everybody else around is just jokingly punching other in the ribs,” Daniels said. “Just trying to make light of the situation, trying to ease things up. It’s funny, actually. It gets fun.”
Green Bay is two days away from hosting the Arizona Cardinals in its first preseason game. McCarthy’s hope is that all the in-fighting that took place leads to his players being more prepared to face a team that’s not also wearing the green and gold colors.
“We’re excited about facing somebody else,” McCarthy said. “This is the point in camp where you can really start to see the guys take off. This is when the young players can really separate themselves. It’s exciting this point in camp. I look forward to seeing who makes that big jump on Friday.”