THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A brawl that included punches and thrown helmets and had four starts and stops prompted Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden to send his players to the buses and end Day 2 of a chippy joint-practice session with the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.
On Wednesday, several skirmishes marred the opening practice.
“That’s enough of that crap,” Gruden said about an hour later at the team hotel. “That’s not good for football, that’s not good for anything, so that’s the end of that practice session.”
Asked what his message was to his team after calling off the practice with two periods to go, Gruden scowled.
“There’s no message,” he said. “They know. They know better. Everybody knows better. And again, it wasn’t everybody fighting — it will be on TV, you’ll see a bunch of guys screaming and yelling — but it was two guys in the special teams period. And then it was a lot of trash-talking that escalated. Just sickening, really, it’s just stupidity. I’m done with that. It’s just child’s play to me.”
Rams coach Sean McVay said he was disappointed to end practice early.
“We only had a little bit left, so felt like the best decision, just based on the temperature of the situation, was bag the last eight plays in the team period that we had,” McVay said. “I did not see it, I just kind of had heard what had happened. But other than me seeing it, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’m glad that nobody got injured. … It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to finish it up, but I’ll leave it at that.”
Said Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who did not suit up Thursday as part of a veteran day off: “Honestly, every joint practice I’ve ever been a part of there was a fight, but how things happened yesterday, how physical it was, I was pretty sure it was going to be — come back and be a lot of B.S.”
Most of the dustups over the two practices occurred during special teams periods, and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had an idea why.
“Well, there’s a reason a lot of the fights came on special teams — they’re fighting for a job,” Carr said Wednesday. “Literally.
“I love the fighting. … I think it’s good for your team to fight a little bit. Everyone’s tired at this point of camp. … It doesn’t bother me, as long as no one gets hurt.
“When that stuff carries on to the next play and the next play and you’re getting cheap shots, that’s when it’s pointless. But I think there is a good respect for both sides.”
There had been heat between the Raiders and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the opening drill, when he pushed running back Josh Jacobs out of bounds hard and later hit him hard enough to pop off Jacobs’ helmet. Later, Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow twice beat Ramsey on highlight-reel catches and there was a lot of trash-talking from the Raiders’ sideline.
Thursday, Ramsey barked at Renfrow during drills, and Carr yelled and pointed at Ramsey during 7-on-7s before completing a pass in front of Ramsey for a first down and yelling at him, “There’s another one.” Carr later joked that his talking prompted the brawl, after Carr and Ramsey hugged.
Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby was in the middle of the final fight. A day earlier, Crosby laughed when asked about the chippiness of the practice.
“It’s all fun,” Crosby said at the time. “This is when you can get your punches out — the preseason. Get away with a little bit extra. Tempers get flaring. It is what it is. It’s the first day going against somebody else. Things like that happen.
“You’re not going to get kicked out of a game. You can throw a couple punches here and there. So, it is what it is.”
Jacobs, meanwhile, said Ramsey did not take a cheap shot when his helmet came off.
“I didn’t really have my helmet strapped on, so that was on me. … I didn’t want him to be labeled as a dirty player when I knew it wasn’t like that.
“You look at our guys and see how we reacted, and you see their guys and how they just let some things happen. I like the fact that our team’s got that fighting spirit. Not only that, but they had each other’s backs.”