Skirmish? What skirmish?
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Trent Cole said Sunday, about two hours after an entanglement between he and LeSean McCoy in 7-on-7 drills kicked up a pile of humanity that swirled like a cyclone along the left sideline at the NovaCare Complex.
An irate McCoy emerged from the funnel of Eagles, still jawing at a gone-bonkers Cole. On a hot and steamy day, tempers flared early, injecting some extra juice on Day 2 of Eagles training camp.
“That’s my brother, man,” Cole said dismissively. “We were just playing around. We’re competitors. We’re very competitive.”
McCoy, not known for hiding his feelings, shrugged off the incident.
"The whole camp so far, it’s been touching a little too much,” he said. “I’m trying to let them know, it’s OK if you can’t cover me.”
But the short fracas could portend the tone of camp Monday, the first open practice at Lincoln Financial Field and the first for Eagles in pads. So far, through two days of camp, they’ve practiced in shorts and shells.
On Monday, the pads come out, guaranteeing an uptick in the decibel of clatter on the field and some players seizing the opportunity to play gladiator before the stadium masses.
You can consider McCoy-Cole an undercard to the main event.
“Maybe,” Brandon Graham said, “because we’ve been waiting to put the pads on and we’ve been getting close we’ve been getting close and everybody can feel it.”
Graham and the holdovers from the Andy Reid regime remember how the former coach’s camps were frequently interrupted by skirmishes, a byproduct of Reid’s insistence on practicing in pads and tackling to the ground.
At Reid’s camps, fights weren’t relegated to 7-on-7s and full-team scrimmages; they highlighted lineman drills and were common among 1-on-1s between receivers and defensive backs.
Camp Kelly is a nicer, gentler summer session with very few periods of live tackling to the ground and punishments usually for those who lose their cool.
Last year, Chip Kelly booted cornerback Cary Williams, a frequent fighter, from practice for clashing with a Patriots receiver during a joint practice.
“There’s no place for it,” said Graham, who was on the field when McCoy and Cole needed to be separated but called himself a spectator. “Just got out there and compete. At the end of the day it’s your teammate and you don’t want to hurt your teammate just by horseplaying."
Graham said McCoy took umbrage with the way Cole “nudged” the running back in coverage. McCoy had split wide left, forcing Cole to rotate over.
Just a “nudge?”
“You know, it wasn’t really a nudge because it was 270 (pounds) against 200,” Graham admitted. “I wasn’t taking it that seriously because it was just a regular catfight.”
Should we expect more fireworks at the Linc?
“You gotta draw the line,” Graham cautioned. “You gotta take care of each out out here. Even when we get pads on you can’t just be out here trying to kill everybody, because we do got to have them for the season. But [Monday] is gonna be a lot of aggression.”