CINCINNATI — A tussle between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams forced both teams to halt team-to-team training on Thursday, the last day of the two teams’ combined training.
On a day full of post-snap affairs, riots broke out during team practice that featured a Bengals first-team offense and a Rams-first-team defence. An unidentifiable Rams defender from distance involved with Bengal’s right tackle La’el Collins. The defender holds Collins from behind, arms around his chest, seconds after Cincinnati dashes behind Joe Mixon is a few meters below the pitch.
Collins took exception and swung a punch as soon as he was free, sparking a huge commotion that drew several whistles and flags from the lead crew. Several helmets removed, with a Cincinnati Enquirer photographer saw Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald holding a Bengal cap in each hand. After practice, video circulating on Twitter appears to show Donald swinging the helmet several times during the scrum.
Players from both teams were strewn across the training ground closest to the road separating Cincinnati’s training facility and Paycor Stadium. After a few minutes, the team decided to end the controversial exercise.
Donald declined to comment through a team spokesman, who also said the team would not comment.
Rams coach Sean McVay said earlier that he didn’t want to make a big fuss and said in some cases it was just two teams defending each other. Both coaches talk about wanting to be safe and wanting to get the right amount of work.
“I just saw people swinging and some people wearing helmets, some not,” McVay said. “There’s a scrum. You never know what can happen. And my biggest concern is just unnecessary injuries to the people we rely on, whether it’s for our team or another team.”
Says Bengals coach Zac Taylor: “It’s just a bit of a fuss.”
“We just called it,” Taylor said. “We are in the last one [practice] Point. We got two very good days of work. So is it worth getting a few extra games? Not. So we call it.”
This is not the first time Collins has been involved in a dispute on Thursday. He appears to have been involved in two other spats with the Rams defender. On one occasion, he was substituted in team training with a Bengals cadangan reserve tackle D’Ante Smith.
When asked about Collins’ role in the fight, Taylor declined to go into specifics. Cincinnati made no players available after practice.
Rams quarterback Matthew Staffordwho was the only Los Angeles player to speak to the media, was on the training pitch opposite the Bengals’ initial defense and has no details about the incident.
Both teams will have Friday off before they close pre-season with Saturday’s clash in Cincinnati. Neither team is expected to play their starter in the final. Taylor said he didn’t anticipate any hostility to carry over.
“You never want to make headlines,” Bell said of the message from the front office. “Keep everything clean.”