After five fights broke out at Thursday’s joint practice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians downplayed it all.
Arians told the media that none of the Bucs players involved will receive punishments after the heated practice with the Tennessee Titans. He also denied the altercations.
“Fighting? I didn’t see any fighting,” Arians said on August 19. “A lot of pushing and shoving, but I didn’t see any fists thrown.”
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Antonio Brown Captured Throwing Punches at Titans CB
Despite Arians’ comments, All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown was caught on camera throwing punches at Titans cornerback Chris Jackson. The Bucs’ star receiver “wanted a flag for contact and they were talking after the play” before it escalated, according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman.
ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported that “Brown ripped Jackson’s helmet off and threw punches” before leaving the practice field and returning. Bucs intern Louis Murphy broke up the altercation, per Laine.
George Walker IV of the Tennessean caught photos of Brown’s altercation at the practice.
Arians’ Response to Brown Fight, Titans Not Concerned
Arians may not have seen Brown’s altercation, according to Laine, because of “simultaneous practices happening across multiple fields” at the time.
Arians dismissed the Brown incident either way.
“Nah, waving flies,” he told the media.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who tried intervening during another skirmish per Laine, likewise skirted the issue of fighting in practice.
“Our job is to perform football plays,” Vrabel said, per Laine. “Regardless of whether there are sidebars or altercations … I get it. It’s hot out there. Guys are competing and trying to finish. Those things come up.”
Getting feisty didn’t help the Titans compete better against the Bucs, either.
“It sucked,” Vrabel said, per Laine. “From what I saw, we didn’t do very well offensively. I don’t think we competed like we did yesterday. Probably a lot of reasons. But just not good enough. Clearly they were better today.”
Auman noted that the NFL doesn’t suspend players for fights in practice. According to the NFL Operations website, fines only go out for fighting in games.
Laine reported that both head coaches originally said fighting wouldn’t be tolerated in the joint practices on Wednesday, August 17 and Thursday, August 18.
5 Other Bucs Got Feisty on the Field
While Brown grabbed the most attention, five other Bucs players were involved in altercations, per Laine. That included Herb Miller, K.J. Britt, Leonard Fournette, Ryan Jensen and Devin White.
Fournette got into an altercation with Titans defensive end Jeffrey Simmons, and Jensen got in on it, according to Pewter Report. It “took both units to pull them apart,” the Bucs website reported.
It also took others to pull apart Britt and Titans linebacker Nick Dzubnar amid their scuffle on a special teams play, per Laine.
White, a veteran linebacker defended his skirmish as helping out a teammate.
“I just seen one of my brothers like get tossed around, so I just tried to help him — that’s all,” White said, per Laine. “We all tossing and turning. … I really don’t know, it was one of our corners, one of our DBs, a safety or something. It was after a run play. I really couldn’t tell you. Emotions were going. You see your same color jersey with two other jerseys that are the opposite color — you just want to help your guy.”
White’s altercation led to more players getting involved, Laine noted.
Miller’s punt return skirmish likewise led to the teams’ benches emptying, according to JoeBucsFan.com.
Fournette made light of the fighting on social media, but he deleted one of the posts. His Instagram story called Brown “the heavyweight champ“, but Fournette’s photo of Brown punching Jackson didn’t stay posted long.
White called the practice “a lot of grown men competing with emotions,” according to Pewter Report.
“Things happen, you got to protect everybody,” he added.
The Bucs and Titans will square off in preseason game No. 2 at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET.