Colts-Ravens camp melees draw ire of Frank Reich

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WESTFIELD, Ind. – Where was Michael Buffer when you needed him?

Let’s get ready to rummbullll!

On the final day of training camp and during the second of two joint workouts, the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens went toe-to-toe. On several occasions, players exchanged pushes, and shoves and unprintable words.

Twice, they simply went it at. Football yielded to brawling Saturday afternoon.

Who knew Grand Park needed a boxing/MMA venue?

The first skirmish – it really was more than that – occurred during punt drills and the catalysts were Colts’ linebacker Antonio Morrison and Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan. One thing led to another, a scrum formed in the middle of the field and players from each sideline flowed to the scrum.

On the edge, a coach or teammate had Colts defensive end Chris McCain in a bear hug, pulling from the fight. A Ravens official did likewise with safety Tony Jefferson. Neither was extracted willingly.

A Ravens helmet was hoisted in the air, and landed at least 20 yards away.

A little later with the Colts’ starting offense going against Baltimore’s No. 1 defense, pushing led to shoving led to brawling. On the periphery, Colts rookie wideout Reece Fountain and Ravens cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste were giving one-on-one work new meaning. They were squaring up, sizing each other up and sending haymakers.

Frank Reich took exception to the undisciplined nature of practice. He whisked right past his normal opening comments and zeroed in on what he described as the “little skirmishes.’’ It was the latest reminder Reich broke in as an NFL coach in Indy with Tony Dungy, who never condoned fighting in practices.

“Not happy about that,’’ he said. “Very disappointed in that. That’s not what Colts fans can expect from this team. We’re football players. We’re professional football players.

“We’re not fighters. This is not the MMA. We’re not in the cage. That’s unacceptable. We’ve got little kids up in the stands. That’s not what role models (do).’’

The brawling, Reich added, contributed to a sloppy practice.

“Disappointed in that,’’ he said. “We have to learn from that and leran how to translate that aggression into good, competitive play.’’

Reich said he talked with Ravens coach John Harbaugh after practice, and the two were on the same page about how practices should be run.

However, Harbaugh downplayed the skirmishes.

“It cracks me up,’’ he said. “Is this a healthy obsession that we all have with fights in training camp practices? It’s really nothing, much ado about nothing.

“It got broken up pretty quickly and we’re moving on.’’

Here’s where it’s worth mentioning the Colts and Ravens reconvene Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium for their second preseason game.

Reich and general manager Chris Ballard are attempting to instill a toughness and aggressive mindset into their roster. Ballard is tired of the Colts being pushed around, most notably by AFC South rival Jacksonville.

But Reich insisted there’s a distinct line between being tough and being out of control.

“The way you be a tough team is when your teammate is in harm’s way, you go protect your teammate,’’ he said. “But the way you protect him is you get him out of the waylay. You protect yourself in the meantime, but we’re not doing anything to incite anything further.’’

Quarterback Andrew Luck agreed. He said he had never been a part of such a “chippy’’ practice.

“We have each other’s backs 100 percent,’’ Luck said. “That’s underlying to anything that happens. I love my teammates. I think my teammates love me.

“We’ve got each other’s back. We’ve just got to make sure at some point we’re not wasting time. This is football.’’

Fountain and Jean-Baptiste temporarily were engaged in fisticuffs. That, Reich stressed, won’t be tolerated.

“There’s just no place for that. It’s bush league,’’ he said. “It’s undisciplined. In the long run, teams that do that and players that do that lose and that’s not the kind of team we want to be.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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