EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — As the weeks progress in NFL training camps, it’s not unusual to see players grab each other by the jersey, wrestle, yell a few profanities and then get separated by teammates as the coaches repeatedly blow their whistles.
It’s the old boys-will-be-boys approach, and the New York Giants have been going through it lately as camp stretches into its second week and players don shoulder pads.
Coach Ben McAdoo doesn’t mind it. He wants his team to be physical. He wants his players to know what it is like to hit and be hit.
What the second-year head coach doesn’t want is the prolonged scrums. Invariably, someone gets stepped on or knocked down and an injury happens.
“The extracurricular stuff after the whistle is something that irritates the vets, and those are the things we need to put an end to,” McAdoo said Thursday. “You can be physical and you can be heavy-handed. You can fit your pads in and you can finish. But when that whistle blows, that extra stuff after the whistle is unnecessary.”
The biggest blowup Thursday was between starting right tackle Bobby Hart and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
The other flareups were shorter. Defensive end Olivier Vernon and rookie offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty got in each other’s face, as did middle linebacker B.J. Goodson and veteran running back Orleans Darkwa after the second-year defender hit him on a play.
“Practice is practice,” Vernon said. “You’re going to get things like that. You know, we just keep moving forward from that. We’re still teammates at the end of the day.”
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and guard Justin Pugh, two of the team’s best players, also got into a heated exchange.
“That’s football,” Pugh said of the fighting. “That’s August camp. It happens every year. You go into the locker room, you shake that guy’s hand, you move on from it.”
Vernon said everybody is trying to get better and the blood gets flowing in the heat.
“It gets very competitive out there,” said Vernon, a veteran who signed an $85 million contract with the Giants as a free agent in 2016. “You know, that’s football.”
Darkwa said players should expect to be hit once the pads go on. He was not surprised by Goodson.
“It’s his first season as a starter, so maybe he is trying to make a point or something, I don’t know,” Darkwa said. “As far as atmosphere, like I said before, it’s training camp; it’s going to happen. There are going to be hits. There are going to be some things here and there, some scuffles here and there, but you just got to be prepared for it.”
In his fifth training camp, guard Justin Pugh has had his share of disagreements with defenders, including one with linebacker Devon Kennard on Wednesday. He said after practice, the players shake hands and move on.
When asked if he had any advice for Bisnowaty, Pugh smiled.
“I would tell him to grab the facemask and go upper cuts. Don’t throw straights because then you hurt your hand. But that’s me,” he said, drawing laughs. “No, no, no, all jokes aside, at the end of the day, we’ve got to protect each other and be safe. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself and knocking yourself out of camp and then hurting yourself on making this team because of something silly like getting in a fight with a guy that you know.”
NOTES: McAdoo said WR Sterling Shepard was a little sore Thursday after rolling his left ankle the day before. An MRI was taken, but he did not have the results. … WR Tavarres King rolled an ankle covering a punt and left practice. … MLB Keenan Robinson was in the concussion protocol after taking a hit Wednesday. … LB J.T. Thomas III (knee) remains on PUP. … DE Devin Taylor and RB Shane Vereen may return to practice Friday. … Backup C Brett Jones is getting snaps with the first team.