Tempers run hot at scrimmage
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Aug. 05 2007
It took nine days and 13 practice sessions for the Rams to have their first
scuffle of training camp during Saturday's scrimmage at Rams Park. But it was a
Running back Steven Jackson had taken a shovel pass in the red zone from Marc
Bulger for good yardage. After he cleared the line of scrimmage, Jackson was
jolted pretty good by strong safety Corey Chavous.
The blow seemed to take Jackson by surprise, because it took place before the
full-contact, live-tackling portion of the scrimmage. But the Rams' secondary
wasn't finished. After Chavous' jolt, free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe made an
aggressive attempt to strip the football from Jackson.
Next thing, Jackson threw haymakers, and a donnybrook ensued. Just when things
appeared to calm down, Richie Incognito stepped in, picked a loose helmet off
the ground and angrily flung it the air.
Thus began Round 2 of the scuffle, somewhat to the amazement of more than 1,500
spectators, easily the largest crowd of camp this season. Before all was said
and done, even Jay Zygmunt, the club's president of football operations and
general manager, apparently was on the field trying to break it up.
"It's that time of year," coach Scott Linehan said. "These are the dog days. I
think that was just an example of where you've got to keep your composure.
Those are the kinds of things that'll cost you a game. You get a guy kicked out
of the game, or a personal foul on an untimely part of the field. ... It's
unacceptable, and it is non-negotiable. So we've got to get that corrected."
As recently as Thursday, offensive coordinator Greg Olson spoke to the offense
and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett spoke to the defense about limiting extra
hits on the practice field — not just on Jackson, but even during line drills.
During an evening practice Tuesday, Linehan himself lit into defensive tackle
Claude Wroten for getting too close to quarterback Marc Bulger on a pass rush.
There's a fine line between being competitive in practice and going too far and
risking an injury to a teammate. On Saturday, the issue was more a matter of
knowing when to stick up for a teammate (Jackson), and when to turn the other
cheek to avoid a penalty, ejection, or fine.
"You're riding that edge all the time in football," Linehan said. "When you're
competitive ... you are always on that edge, and you can never cross it. ...
You've got to keep your cool no matter how tired or how frustrated. Whatever
happened, you've got to turn and go back to the huddle."
Jackson ducked out of Rams Park on Saturday without speaking to reporters. But
Incognito offered no apologies for his actions.
There's an unwritten rule that you don't hit your feature back during any kind
of practice situation. After helping Jackson pile up 2,300-plus yards from
scrimmage last season, Incognito feels Jackson's entitled to that kind of
"Most definitely," Incognito said. "They understand on that side of the ball
how important he is. He's just as important as Will Witherspoon or La'Roi
(Glover), or any of those guys over there."
The scuffle, Incognito said, was just "a high testosterone situation."
But he added, "It's more of a right and wrong. Don't hit Steven. Don't touch
Marc. It's not about me being macho out there. It's kind of like the sheriff,
just keeping things cool. ... When something goes down like that, and you've
got people punching at your running back, who is a huge part of our offense,
you've got to step in and say something."
By the time the players got into the locker room after the scrimmage, Incognito
said players on both sides of the ball were laughing it off.
"We're a family, and sometimes families have fights," he said.
Re: Tempers run hot at scrimmage
Richie again. :\
He needs to learn to keep his cool. He is a player, not a coach and he should remember that. He has no ability to control the defense. He should stick to pestering Barron.