On a day full of post-snap business, a scrimmage broke out during a team drill featuring the Bengals’ first-team offense and the Rams’ first-team defense. A Rams defender who could not be remotely identified was engaged with the Bengals right tackle La’el Collins. The defender had Collins wrapped from behind, arms around his chest, seconds after the Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon was a few meters from the field.
Collins countered and threw punches once he was free, unleashing a huge roar that drew several whistles and flags from the refereeing team. Several helmets have been removed, with a Cincinnati Enquirer photographer Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald brandishing a Bengals lid in each hand. After training, a video posted on Twitter appearing to show Donald swinging a helmet several times during the scrum.
Players from both teams were strewn across the practice field closest to the street separating the Cincinnati Practice Center and Paycor Stadium. After a few minutes, the teams decided to end the disputed practice.
Donald declined to comment through a team spokesperson, who also said the team would not comment.
Rams coach Sean McVay said earlier that he didn’t want to make a big deal out of the smash and said that in some cases there were only two teams defending. Both coaches talked about wanting to be safe and wanting to get the right amount of work done.
“I just see guys swinging and some guys have helmets some guys don’t,” McVay said. “There is a scrum. You never know what can happen. And my biggest concern is unnecessary injuries to the people we rely on, whether it’s for our team or the other team.”
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said, “It just got a little complicated.”
“We just called it,” Taylor said. “We were in the last [practice] period. We had two very good days of work. So was it worth getting a few extra games? No. So we called him.
It wasn’t the first time Collins was embroiled in a dispute on Thursday. He appeared to be involved in two other smashes with a Rams defenseman. On one occasion, he was replaced in a team drill by the Bengals’ reserve tackle D’Ante Smith.
Asked about Collins’ role in the scuffles, Taylor declined to elaborate. Cincinnati did not release any players after practice.
Rams Quarterback Matthew Staffordwho was the only Los Angeles player to speak to the media, was on the opposing practice field working against the Bengals’ starting defense and had no details of the incident.
Both teams are expected to have Friday off before wrapping up the preseason with a Saturday game in Cincinnati. Neither team is expected to face its incumbents in the final. Taylor said he does not anticipate any animosity to continue.
“You never want to be in the headlines,” Bell said of the front office message. “Keep everything clean.”