There was a fight club in Foxboro this week, but everyone is talking about it.
The New England Patriots hosted the Carolina Panthers this week for joint practices, which were marred by melees both days.
On Day 1 a fight broke out that resulted in Patriots wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Kendrick Bourne, as well as Panthers defensive back Kenny Robinson, getting thrown out. Later, James Ferentz and Phil Hoskins got tossed for their ensuing scrap after Ferentz sent Hoskins to the ground by the sideline.
Day 2 didn’t offer a reprieve from the scuffling. Robinson lit up Wilkerson with a clean block on a kickoff return drill, then stood over Wilkerson and celebrated. The Patriots wideout needed to be carted off the field, and New England took exception to Robinson celebrating over a visibly injured player, which started fracas No. 1 of the day.
Fracas No. 2 came shortly thereafter, when Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey got frustrated by a late hit from Deatrich Wise Jr.. McCaffrey fired the ball at Wise, and so began another dustup. That one spilled off the field and into the spectator area, injuring one fan who sustained a swollen foot after Wise, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 275 pounds, landed on her.
Fights tend to happen in joint practices, but this week was particularly bad. Former NFL executive Mike Lombardi wasn’t impressed.
“To me, when you have fights in these practices, they’re like telephone tough guys – that’s not what we’re here for, we’re here to get better,” Lombardi said on his podcast “The GM Shuffle.” “Like Baker (Mayfield) said, we’re here to improve our game, we’re here to work, we’re here to practice against players that know how to practice.
“That’s why you do this, that’s why two teams come together to practice against one another, because good players know how to practice. S--tty players can’t help themselves, they’re on the ground, they fall down and they hurt other players. But when good goes against good, the chances of injuries go way down because they know how to practice, they know they’re not going to cut block, they understand it.
“When you have fights, which are just stupid, and guys are throwing punches with helmets on, at some point – like, this is ridiculous, this is two years in a row now. The Panthers went to the Colts and there were a bunch of fights. The Panthers have a little bit of edge to them, they better take that edge into the regular season, and I think they will.”
With practices over, the Patriots and Panthers now will face each other in a preseason game Friday night at Gillette Stadium. Robinson, who was involved in incidents on both days, appears in jeopardy of being cut, while Wilkerson reportedly has a concussion.