Cincinnati Bengals training camp got heated on Tuesday when Vontaze Burfict made a tackle on Giovani Bernard that got coaches angered and players riled up.
In his first fully padded practice since returning from ACL surgery, Bernard was tackled in a non-tackling drill by Burfict. Running backs coach Kyle Caskey quickly went to yell at Burfict, who shoved him in return. A bunch of Bengals offensive linemen then started pushing a crowd of players, in defense of Caskey, and things quickly got intense.
Though, it’s all par for the course in training camp. There have been fights all around the league in training camps as players are working hard and taking out their aggression on the football field for the first time in months.
“A little pushing, a shoving -- just typical stuff in training camp,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said via ESPN in response to the action.”
Marvin Lewis added, “pushing and shoving is a waste of time.”
Guenther tried to explain what happened, after many were extremely confused by why Burfict would be tackling Bernard, who everyone knows is fresh off his ACL recovery, when the drill didn’t call for him to do so.
"He (Burfict) kind of got blocked into Gio and went down. You don't want to take the backs to the ground and get someone hurt," Guenther said. "When it's a live drill we can do that and that's a different story."
After training camp was over, Bernard explained it as saying Burfict slipped, and the two were joking on the sidelines toward the end of practice, clearly moved on from what had happened.
“That’s my man. Tez is Tez,” Bernard said via Bengals.com. “He’s going to play the way he plays. That’s my buddy. That’s my dude. It’s just early in camp getting some frustration out. That’s football.”
Still, with no reason for Bernard to be exposed to a potential injury, it’s far from ideal to have Burfict tackling him in a drill where Bernard was not meant to be tackled. And even worse, it’s far from acceptable for Burfict to put his hands on a coach.
“We don’t want to take the backs to the ground and get somebody hurt,” said Guenther. “When it’s a live drill we can do that. It’s a different story.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, tight end Tyler Eifert—who was visibly angered by Burfict’s tackle on Bernard—got into a skirmish with safety Shawn Williams toward the end of practice.
“It’s five days going against the same guys every day. We shouldn’t do that. We’re teammates, but sometimes we just … we’ll go in the locker room and it will be settled,” Eifert said. “It was nothing serious at all. We just got tangled up. That stuff happens in camp, I guess.”
The Bengals have the day off on Wednesday and it sounds like when they return on Thursday (practice starts at 3:00 p.m. ET) these storylines will be things of the past.