Coaches may call pushing and shoving a standard part of training camp, but they aren't usually talking about a player pushing a coach. For that reason, Tuesday’s Bengals practice looked very different from any thus far.
And Vontaze Burfict found himself in the middle of it.
On a running play during a non-tackling (thud) portion of practice, Giovani Bernard took a handoff into the hole and Burfict came plowing through, hit Bernard in the legs and went down toward the knee in which he tore his ACL just eight months prior.
After the hit, running backs coach Kyle Caskey walked toward Burfict to confront him about going at Bernard’s legs and Burfict pushed the assistant coach away. From that point, all sides of the team converged into pushing and shoving that lasted about a minute.
As the drill continued later, Tyler Eifert could be seen having an animated conversation with Burfict.
“We are wasting time pushing and shoving,” Marvin Lewis said. “Let's go back to the huddle, go to the next play and do it right."
It wouldn’t be the end of Eifert’s altercations on the day. During one of the final drills of the day, Eifert ended up tossing Shawn Williams to the ground finishing off a block. Williams popped up, pushed Eifert and the tight end came right back under Williams’ chin. At that point, a mass of pushing and shoving commenced again.
Cooler heads appeared to prevail as practice wore on. Bernard and Burfict were sharing a laugh on the sideline and Bernard defused any controversy, stating, “he slipped.”
This marked the fifth consecutive day of training camp. A much needed off day comes Wednesday.
“Training camp as the day is long has always been like that,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “You get to the fifth day in pads last few days, the edge has become a little bit sharper. We don’t want anybody to get hurt, we want to keep the backs up and keep everyone clean.”
Bernard completed one of the more amazing comebacks from ACL surgery you’ll see, back to full speed from the Nov. 20 injury.
Guenther said he discussed the reaction to the incident with Burfict after.
“We can’t do it on Sundays, so we shouldn’t do it out here,” Guenther said. “Pull them to the side and say we don’t need to be doing that stuff. But it’s typical training camp stuff. Been around forever.”