There were highlights to today's morning practice at SUNY Cortland, but they were mostly of the pugilistic variety.
"It was a little rock-'em-sock-'em robots out there," head coach Rex Ryan said at today's early afternoon news conference. "It always happens in camp."
And after the Jets' offense and defense swung and shoved and brawled on several occasions during the seventh practice of camp, linebacker Bart Scott saw it all as a good thing.
"It's not budging, not giving an inch," Scott described the mentality of him and his teammates on both sides of the ball. "It's not being like thugs. It's just being a guy that's willing not to back down from any situation. Sometimes, you'll get people of two equal forces butting heads. Sometimes there's going to be some attitude, some fisticuffs a little bit. Once we get in the locker room, it's all over with. It's good for practice."
The fuse was lit for the ensuing fireworks when, during 9-on-9 drills, running back Thomas Jones took a swing at first-year safety James Ihedigbo. Both sides of the ball collapsed on the players and it was quickly broken up.
"Thomas said somebody was holding him," tackle Damien Woody said. "He was trying to break free, and they kept holding him, and he got frustrated."
"It was a phantom punch," Scott rebutted. "I think it was Thomas, but he can't be accurate with biceps that big."
The gloves were dropped by both units again on a Shonn Greene run. Then a third scuffle broke out between DB Ahmad Carroll and OL Robert Turner. When they and some teammates fell to the turf, Darrelle Revis came in with an atomic piledriver, although it seemed more in fun than with evil intent.
If there was a teachable moment in all of this, it was just that. Nobody wants this to happen but it does and then it's over with.
"It's hot, it's camp, everybody's irritated, sleep-deprived, the bed is hard, cable stinks," Scott said. "You gotta have a little attitude."
And some tactics don't hurt either. Scott said his favorite approach is to "hug a veteran."
"A crafty vet would just grab another vet and squeeze him a little bit. While the rest of the people are fighting, 'I got Woody,' " Scott said, as Woody stood next to him holding a TV microphone while conducting a mock interview. "He said he should've expect that from an Eastside Detroit guy."
And Ryan said he saw something he doesn't recall ever having seen before in a camp pileup.
"I saw the offensive unit, they were pulling off defensive players, and the defense was pulling off offensive players," the coach said. "The reason you do that is so your buddy can get another shot in. You don't pull off your own players. So I was impressed with the way the guys handled that."
"It's all about us wanting to build an identity on offense," Woody said, echoing his veteran linebacker friend's. "Coach Ryan talks about playing like a Jet. We don't want to take anything from anybody."
Yet Ihedigbo, who had some happy words with Jones later, underscored the team-building part of days like this.
"I let 'em know at the end of practice that I don't need 'em fighting each other," Ryan said. "Sometimes it's good to let off a little steam. Things like that happen. But I sense there's a lot of pride in their particular units. There's pride in that defense, pride in that offense. What you're going to see, I think, is you're going to have pride in that whole team."
Update: A few more highlights of the football kind:
Kellen Clemens again mixes some strong throws with some he'd like to have back. He finds Jerricho Cotchery with a beautiful sideline throw-and-catch, then Leon Washington makes an over-the-shoulder 15-yard grab. But the next play, KC's deep out-route for Chansi Stuckey is tipped at the line by Bart Scott — and winds up in the hands of Revis, who would've taken it to the house.
Unofficially, that's Pick No. 4 in four days of team drills for Revis.
Clemens also nails TE Dustin Keller with another 30-yarder earlier.
Erik Ainge throws a pass that goes from bad to good in a flash as he tries to find WR Paul Raymond covered by DBs Keith Fitzhugh and Emanuel Cook. The ball is batted in the air and Raymond, never breaking stride, plucks it from the air for the score. Fitzhugh is shaken up on the play and will get an MRI on his shoulder.
NT Kris Jenkins (calf) remains on the sidelines stretching and walking. TE Richard Owens was on the stationary bike with an undetermined injury.
Jets owner Woody Johnson is spied at his first camp practice, talking at the 15-yard line with GM Mike Tannenbaum.
"It's about enjoying it," he said. "That's the kind of edge that we want to have and that's the kind of attitude we want to develop as a team. We are going to enjoy each other's company off the field and on the field. Tempers may flare, but that's a part of playing football."