In his 12 years in the league, tight end Vernon Davis said he'd never seen anything like the skirmish that broke out between the Redskins at Jets during the first joint training camp practice session Sunday afternoon. And yet, he hedged, it was to be expected.
"It's football, and quite frankly, there's not anything wrong with it," Davis said. "We just have to learn from it, move on, and try to get better. When it comes to practice, get our work done and get off our feet."
That seemed to be the prevailing theme among Redskins players when asked about issues that surfaced along the sideline that sparked a storm of players to grab jerseys and exchange words.
With tensions rising before and during practice, things came to a boil during the first snap of live 11-on-11 drills, with a toss play to running back Chris Thompson. Morgan Moses sprinted ahead as his lead blocker and took on defensive back Trumaine Johnson, who pushed Moses down after the play had ended. The right tackle was slow to get up, grabbing his knee, which prompted heated words and eventually a swarm of players that moved off the field and near fans close to the sideline.
Once the smoke began to clear, another dust-up on the other sideline prompted head coach Jay Gruden to walk Moses off the field so that play could continue. Moses was evaluated and had no injury to report once practice had concluded.
Trent Williams, who was in the middle of the action on both fronts, played down the extracurricular activity, which cued rain to fall that eventually cut practice short.
"I just saw a cheap shot, whatever it was you know, it is what it is," Williams said. "It's football man, its football. It's a lot of grown men, a lot of testosterone in the air…things happen."
"It was chippy the whole day man, like the fights," said tight end Jordan Reed, who was near the action. "That's what has been going on with joint practices all around the league so that's what's going when it comes to this."
"I wasn't over there so I really can't speak on it," cornerback Josh Norman said. "But, big Mo he was very upset coming in here, saw his face and yeah, man, it's tough to go out there and try to get good work in when guys look at you differently and go a little bit harder than expected and kind of go outside their training and do some stuff that's extra when it's not needed. For just a good player, good form of tackle, the good thud. A wrap up and leg-go. But it didn't happen today."
Unlike the skirmish that broke out against the Texans during training camp in 2015, Sunday's dramatics didn't appear to offer as many positives. The main frustration aired by players was that it prevented the team from getting in more quality reps against an opponent, the purpose of the joint sessions. Also unlike 2015, the Redskins still have two more practices with New York.
"We're not able to be productive and get stuff done," running back Chris Thompson said. "I think at one point it was every three plays coaches were trying to break up fights. That way we're not getting each other better, we're just out here to be out here. I'm really trying to maximize every single play, I haven't been hit yet. So this is the first time that guys have been hitting me, I've been able to go and try to pick some blitzes up and things like that, but, I really wasn't able to do too much because the rain ended up cutting practice short. Things get chippy, coach is going to take me out because I'm still, you know, in my recovery stage."
"It's definitely good to get different work, that's why I wish we could just practice," Reed said. "It's good work to go against somebody different that doesn't know your stuff. It's good to get those reps so it's fun for the most part. It's football, it's part of the game to be chippy like that."
As it was, the defense had more opportunities to get in quality work against the Jets, but it hopes the tensions from Sunday don't carry over into Monday. Head coach Jay Gruden spent a couple answers at his podium session on Saturday extolling the virtues of practicing with other teams, and the Redskins would like to support those claims as best they can.
It will take discipline, but the team is ready to return to football.
"We're here to work against another team," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "I hope that everyone got everything they felt they needed to get out of their systems today. I understand stuff happens. You might think a hit is cheap or you think something is a little late and you feel like you have to defend your teammate and I get that, I really do. But if you can avoid some of the trash talking and the things that lead to those big pauses in your work, that's something we got to try to do."