Most coaches, players not happy about Jets, Redskins scuffle
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Trumaine Johnson shoved Morgan Moses after a play, Trent Williams came to his teammate’s defense and within seconds the multiplayer melee spilled into the crowd.
And that was just Day One of the joint workouts between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
Tempers have flared at times between Jets and Redskins players, though things were calmer Monday after a couple of fights and a handful of skirmishes marred their first practice together. But a day of being on their best behavior could be more of an anomaly than a Kumbaya trend leading up to their third and final practice Tuesday and preseason matchup Thursday.
“A bunch of young guys. It’s to be expected,” veteran Redskins tight end Vernon Davis said. “We can’t control what the Jets are doing. They have to be on the same wavelength when it comes to going out there and practicing smart and practicing better. And if they’re not, then someone from our side is going to respond. It could get out of control.”
The majority of players and coaches were annoyed that fights overshadowed the benefits the joint workouts: getting to see action against another team outside of games. Washington running back Chris Thompson and some teammates, who were around when fights broke out with the Houston Texans at training camp in 2015, even questioned the wisdom of bringing another team in — which the Redskins didn’t do either of the past two years.
“I think you ask around the league, I think a lot of guys will probably say they don’t really care for the joint practices just because of things like this happening,” Thompson said. “There’s not many joint practices where you don’t have fights.”
Knowing the Jets were coming to town, linebacker Zach Brown said former Redskins teammate Terrelle Pryor should watch out if he makes one-handed catches. Brown said over the weekend the situation would be fine but cast doubt on Pryor practicing, which he wasn’t wrong about because the receiver revealed he broke his ankle in May and is still working to be 100 percent.
Pryor, whose operation was previously referred to as a cleanup, flashed a smile and said it’s a miracle — “it’s amazing” — he’s on the field. He doesn’t think it’s a miracle that the Jets and Redskins managed to cool down after pushing, shoving and swinging at each other Sunday.
“We’re all trying to get to Week 1 healthy to help our respective teams,” said Pryor, who won’t play Thursday at Washington. “We’re handling it professionally and we can take care of that on the field on Thursday, the hitting and all that. But right now let’s get better. Let’s make each other better.”
Football-wise, the Jets’ focus seems to be on getting rookie quarterback Sam Darnold more work with the first team after the third overall pick’s stellar preseason debut. On the Redskins’ side, coach Jay Gruden has to sort out his running back situation after rookie and presumptive starter Derrius Guice tore the ACL in his left knee and was ruled out for the season.
Fighting Sunday got in the way of that and ticked off Gruden and New York counterpart Todd Bowles because it took time for their players to cool down and wasted practice time.
“They’re not going to get any better fighting us and we’re not going to get any better fighting them,” Bowles said. “We’re not trying to fight them. They’re not trying to fight us. If they wanted to be boxers and wrestlers, they probably would be in another sport.”
That doesn’t mean fights won’t flare up. Johnson called it “friendly competition” and didn’t seem to think it was so bad.
“Competition at its finest,” Johnson said. “It’s one of those days in camp where guys start fights. When you practice against a new team for the first time during camp, I guess that’s what happens. It’s a little competition that got heated up.”
Moses was so heated Sunday afternoon that Gruden escorted him off the field to calm him down. He wasn’t injured and was back Monday, but Williams didn’t take kindly to what he and the Redskins perceived to be a cheap shot.
“We reacted how we reacted,” Williams said. “There’s no repercussions out here, so stuff can go a little further.”
Referee Carl Cheffers and his crew are supervising the workouts, but he said he’s letting coaches break things up rather than the officials policing the field. That’ll change when the Jets and Redskins meet in each team’s second preseason game Thursday.
“If that happens in a game, there’s multiple ejections and penalties that will cost our football team,” Gruden said. “And that’s the most important thing we got to make sure we get across.”
NOTES: Bowles wouldn’t say if Darnold will start Thursday, sticking to his line that “all three quarterbacks need to be ready.” ... Redskins WR Josh Doctson was among those who did not practice, but the team did not say why.