Tempers flare, punches fly at Seahawks practice
By Brady Henderson
RENTON – A scuffle broke out about mid-way through the Seahawks’ minicamp practice on Wednesday when wide receiver Phil Bates and cornerback Richard Sherman went at it, tempers flaring and punches flying over the level of physicality with which Seattle’s defensive backs were playing.
Coach Pete Carroll stepped in to restore order, halting practice for several minutes while he addressed the team.
Fights like these aren’t entirely uncommon. On Wednesday alone there were at least two others around the NFL. Some of those involved in this one chalked it up to the competitive nature of Seattle’s practices and players.
“We’re all so competitive, if you press one wrong button everybody will clear the benches,” free safety Earl Thomas said.
Thomas was involved in the play that started it all. He was in coverage when receiver Bryan Walters landed hard while making a falling catch near the sideline. Walters stayed down, holding his right shoulder in obvious pain, and later had his arm in a sling.
Contact is technically not allowed during this portion of the offseason. Some of it is unavoidable, though, and there’s a bit of gray area between what is acceptable and permitted.
At any rate, Seattle’s receivers took exception to the play involving Thomas and Walters. Sherman and Doug Baldwin – who are best friends – began yelling at each other while Walters was down, and the next play wasn’t even completed when Sherman and Bates started going at it, attracting a horde of players from both sides of the ball. Sherman emerged from the crowd screaming at receiver Ricardo Lockette, some of it inaudible and some of it unrepeatable.
Players continued to jaw at each other, including Thomas and Baldwin, who had to be held back. But tensions settled by the end of practice, many of those involved shaking hands and laughing, including Sherman and Bates.
“We’re all brothers here,” said cornerback Byron Maxwell. “We understand it’s just like that for that moment. It’s not really like that.”
Marshawn Lynch and Bruce Irvin, neither of whom were practicing, both found the entire thing thoroughly amusing. Lynch’s laughter was at times audible over the yelling.
• Wide receiver Kevin Norwood and linebacker Korey Toomer were among those who did not practice. Wide receiver Percy Harvin only took part in a portion of the practice before watching the rest of it. Norwood left Tuesday’s practice briefly after trainers tended to what appeared to be his right foot. Toomer was seen grabbing the back of his right leg following one play on Tuesday.
• The play of the day on Wednesday belonged to cornerback Byron Maxwell, who made a one-handed snag – back-handed, no less – on a deep pass while falling out of bounds. It wasn’t clear whether Maxwell got both of his feet in bounds, a requisite for any catch or interception. Either way, it was a remarkable play.
• Rookie receiver Paul Richardson got behind the defense for another long touchdown reception, showing the speed that is his calling card. He needed every bit of it on this play as he reached with outstretched arms to haul in Russell Wilson’s longball before his momentum carried him into a somersault in the end zone.
• Seattle’s minicamp concludes Thursday with a practice that is scheduled to begin at 11:30. The team will then break for over a month until training camp.