Sometimes you have to wonder what goes through a football player’s mind. And, with Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, that type of question pops up more frequently than with most other players.
During Tuesday’s training camp practice, things got heated when Burfict attempted a tackle on Giovani Bernard during a drill. However, the drill wasn’t a tackling one, as defenders were only supposed to wrap up, and the former Pro Bowl linebacker apparently came dangerously close to Bernard’s knees.
Giovani Bernard got tackled by Burfict and it led to a scrum. Players weren't tackling. Gio was okay. It was ignorant move by Burfict. pic.twitter.com/Biq6A2yBe1— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 1, 2017
In most situations, this would have called for a slap on the wrist for Burfict, reminding him that tackling wasn’t part of these drills. However, complicating matters is the fact that Bernard just started practicing for the first time at the onset of training camp because of a late-season ACL injury he suffered in 2016. He even had yesterday off as a rest day as the team monitors his recovery.
Most players and coaches didn’t seem to be happy with Burfict’s actions, with running backs coach Kyle Caskey understandably flying off the handle and tight end Tyler Eifert giving Burfict an earful shortly after the play. Head coach Marvin Lewis also had a word with Burfict.
Eifert and Burfict had words following the tackle/scrum. pic.twitter.com/9GZAJNVO8y— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 1, 2017
Things tend to get heated in the dog days of summer during training camp. Players are often tired from the rigors of practice, as well eager to hit someone or something other than a punching dummy with fights and poor decisions being made. Just take a look around the league as players have been kicked out of Cowboys and Patriots training camp practices in the last few days due to fights.
While Burfict wasn’t removed from practice, this still isn’t a great look for the linebacker, who has had problems keeping his cool on the field. It’s an issue that he’s had since college and has been working on ever since, but this situation shows a bit of a backslide in that regard.
The good news is that Bernard seemed to be fine after the play, which is fortunate for everyone involved.
Update: It seems like all is good between Bernard and Burfict! Bernard says Burfict “slipped”.
Fences mended. Gio and Burfict laughing it up on sideline during onside kick drill. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
Gio Bernard and Vontaze Burfict were sharing a laugh at the end of the practice. Appears water under bridge. Gio: "He slipped."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017