JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars had three skirmishes and several heated exchanges during a joint practice Tuesday.
Tempers flared, helmets flew and punches were thrown as the teams “worked together” for the second consecutive day in sweltering summer heat and humidity. The in-state teams play a preseason game Thursday night in Jacksonville.
“It’s just two grown men, two grown football players that are chippy, hot, competing,” Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson said. “I don’t think it’s nothing serious. … We’re all tired. We’re hurting. We’re a little on edge. They probably got called out just as we got called out, so everybody came trying to prove a point.”
Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith started the first fracas during a one-one-one blocking drill. Several others joined in, including Tampa Bay backup center Joe Hawley, and created a huge pile of pushing and shoving. Players eventually got separated, and veteran defensive end Calais Campbell spent several minutes chatting with Ngakoue and calming him down.
Jags defensive tackle Malik Jackson and Bucs receiver Mike Evans exchanged words from across the field a few minutes later.
“There was talk going on on both sides,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “That’s part of it; that’s part of doing it. I thought the coaching staffs on both sides handled it fine and you keep playing. Both teams knew if it was out of hand they were going to get kicked out. Like I said, I wasn’t on those fields so I couldn’t really say more than that.”
The teams settled down for a while, until Jacksonville receiver Allen Robinson took exception to Buccaneers safety Chris Conte grabbing him during a red-zone play. Robinson pushed Conte, knocked off his helmet and started another scuffle. Officials flagged Conte for pass interference.
“I probably would say scrum, short scuffle, things of that nature,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “Obviously, we don’t want this in the league. Obviously, you can’t do that in a game. You’re going to hurt your team. So those are the things that we talked to our players about. I don’t want to sit here and say, `You expect that,’ because I think that’s wrong. We don’t want any part of that in our game at any level.”
On the ensuing play, Tampa Bay linebacker Adarius Glanton knocked Jacksonville receiver Arrelious Benn to the ground in a non-tackling drill. Benn came up swinging, setting off the final tussle.
“A lot of joint practices, that stuff happens,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said. “You don’t ever want it to happen. Coach Marrone talks about not allowing that to happen, but it does. It’s part of football. I think it’s important to know the situation.
“If that happens in a game, everybody gets thrown out. I think everybody’s aware of that. But in practice, when something happens like that and you’ve got a guy standing there with 10 of the other team’s guys around him, I think it’s OK to go in there and help him get out of there.”