Tempers flare in Rams-Titans joint practice


Daily News Wire Services
Coaches and seasons can change. Tension whenever the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams get together doesn't.
These teams had some feisty joint practices back in 2000, months after the Rams beat the Titans in the Super Bowl, and it didn't take long yesterday morning for tempers to flare as they gathered in training camp in Nashville, Tenn.
Rams receiver Reche Caldwell grabbed Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan in a bear hug and took him to the ground.
St. Louis coach Scott Linehan was watching his defense with rookie end Chris Long going against the Tennessee offense and Vince Young when he heard some of the grumblings two fields over between his offense and the Titans defense.
"We've got to limit that," Linehan said. "We can't get to where we lose our cool out here. It's that time of year. Guys aren't in very good moods out here. We've just got to make sure we continue to get better. It's good to see us compete and those things. We'll get rid of the extracurricular stuff. It wasn't anything big, a couple of little ones."
That included Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch skirmishing with Rams left tackle Adam Goldberg. After being blocked to the ground on his rush, Vanden Bosch took a big swing at Goldberg.
The head coaches tried to calm things down. But on the next play, Titans end Sean Conover tangled with St. Louis tackle Mark LeVoir, with Vanden Bosch rushing in to help, without his helmet.
"We were anticipating it, and we need that as a football team," Rams receiver Torry Holt said. "After a while it kind of got excessive as far as the banging and guys trying us. We needed that. That's something we're trying to build on is our toughness and at the same time build on our mental toughness."
Yesterday's first practice is the only session in full pads. Taking those off could help ease the tension in several sessions before the teams meet in an exhibition opener Saturday night.
Noteworthy


* A day after being suspended for three games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league's personal conduct code, Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall sidestepped several questions about the matter, including whether he felt he needed counseling, which the league suggested.
Marshall was arrested three times in a yearlong span beginning in March 2007. He's due in court next month for a drunken driving trial and has had two domestic disputes, one of which has been dismissed and another that has yet to produce a formal charge.
"You know what, it doesn't matter," Marshall said. "It's in the past and all I can do is worry about now. I can't worry about yesterday."
Marshall declined to say whether he feels he needs counseling.
"I'm just going to do everything I'm supposed to do, whether it's off the field or on the field, and get past this," he said.
* Linebacker Keith Rivers joined the Cincinnati Bengals at training camp after ending a 10-day holdout. The team's top pick promptly made a rookie mistake.
Rivers did the wrong exercise - jumping jacks - at the end of calisthenics, drawing a round of boos from teammates.
"It shows I haven't been here for a while," said Rivers, who signed a 5-year deal Tuesday night. Terms of the contract haven't been disclosed. *



I love the passion here, we should be getting into fights at this point in camp! That first practice where you're hitting other players instead of your own teammates always brings some fire out!