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Frank Clark ejected from Seahawks practice after punching Germain Ifedi

RENTON – Commenting on the fight that broke out at Seahawks practice Thursday, when Frank Clark threw a punch that injured Germain Ifedi, Michael Bennett talked about a line being crossed and an apology being owed.

When Bennett is the voice of reason about a fight in practice, you know things really got out of hand.

That happened during the one-on-one pass-rush drill Thursday, in the middle of the team’s fourth practice of training camp. It started with Rodney Coe chucking Will Pericak over a water cooler and it ended with Clark throwing a flying punch at a helmetless Ifedi. Clark was promptly ejected and got an escort off the field from a defensive coach while trainers looked at Ifedi’s face, which appeared to be bleeding. He didn’t return to practice either.

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Coach Pete Carroll wasn’t happy about it.

“Disappointed we had a couple guys get after it today,” he said. “There is no room for fighting in football. It is not part of this game. It’s not supposed to be part of this game and we frown upon that very heavily. So real disappointed that that happened today. We have to learn and get better and do right.”

Ifedi stayed down for a minute after taking the punch from Clark.

“Don’t know,” Carroll said when asked how Ifedi was doing, seemingly balking at the question initially. “He’s alright.”

Things had gotten testy between the two on consecutive plays earlier in practice, with Ifedi getting yanked from a team drill after shoving Clark. Their fight in the pass-rush drill came after backups Coe and Pericak went at it. Those two remained engaged for so long during their turn in the drill that they made their way towards a water cooler near where other players were lining up. Coe tossed Pericak aside, causing him to crash over the cooler. As players from both sides were rushing in, an unidentified offensive lineman leveled Coe.

Both sides converged in a massive scrum, and after things seemed to begin to calm down, Clark threw a punch at Ifedi.

Tempers regularly flare at training camp. It’s not as often that punches are thrown and landed.

“Can’t do that. You can’t do it at all,” Carroll said. “I know it’s happening all around the league, it happens everywhere in ball all the time, but it’s not OK and it shouldn’t be a part of it. You can’t do it in a game; you get ejected, just what you saw happen. Somebody could get hurt, which you saw happen. We’ve taken a big stance against it. Really disappointed it happened on Day 4 here.”

You could have seen this coming.

Clark and offensive lineman Luke Joeckel briefly went at it on Tuesday, which, probably not coincidentally, was the first day that shoulder pads and contact were allowed. And with the offensive and defensive linemen now squaring off every day in the always-contentious pass-rush drill, a fight seemed inevitable. It wasn’t so much a question of if or even when it would happen, just who it would involve.

“Scuffles happen in camp,” Bennett said. “We’ve built up so much testosterone all camp and we want to go out here and battle every single time, and sometimes you go a little overboard. I think you have to find that line. I think we may have crossed that line today. But we can talk about it and figure it out where we stand upon that line again.”

Bennett said Clark should apologize to Ifedi.

“It’s about apologizing and being vulnerable,” he said. “Sometimes in life you don’t want to be vulnerable because it doesn’t show that you are a man, but in this case it’s important to be vulnerable and let him know that you made a mistake and let him know that you’ll never cross that line again.”

The pass-rush drill has been where tempers have most often flared over the last few Seahawks training camps. Two years ago it was Clark and guard Mark Glowinski who went at it. Last year, Bennett fought repeatedly with Ifedi and also with Bradley Sowell. After the fight with Sowell, the two walked off the field side by side, talking amicably. Sowell said they later sat together at lunch.

“Fighting to the point where you’re hurting each other, that’s the line I think we draw,” Bennett said Thursday. “I think the line is to respect your teammates and to know that at the end of the day this is practice, this is not a game. At the end of the day, everything that we do is really a game. We don’t want to hurt anybody to the point where they have injuries when they retire.”

Bennett was asked if it’s his job as a veteran to establish that line with younger players.

“Yeah, you have to set that tone, but I’m just as guilty as the next person,” he said. “If I get too heated, I jump in there, too. So I make mistakes just like any other player, but it’s about learning from your mistakes and trying to come in and rebuild that camaraderie again after something like that happens.”