“Small melee” breaks out at Panthers camp


Most training camps are nearing the two-week mark, the usual point at which guys are starting to get sick of looking at one another.

So it’s hardly surprising to hear stories of fights in practice, and Tuesday was the Panthers’ turn.

Coach Ron Rivera referred to a protracted dust-up as a “small melee,” but some of his biggest stars were involved.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, the fun began when safety D.J. Campbell hit tight end Greg Olsen near the sideline, and Olsen popped up and threw the ball back at him. Then a few cornerbacks went back and forth with wide receiver Brandon LaFell, and then defensive end Greg Hardy mixed it up with right tackle Byron Bell, though that ended when diminutive wide receiver Steve Smith tossed the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hardy to the ground.

That’s their best football player (Smith), and three other hard-to-replace starters, including their next two receiving targets and a double-digit sack guy.

“I think we’re getting to the point where we can’t wait to play against somebody else. It was disappointing that it lingered and it lasted as long as it did,” Rivera said. “I’m not saying it was good, but it was good to see the guys have a little bit of attitude about things. But we do most certainly want to save those for Friday [against the Bears], and we don’t want to do it against our own teammates. . . .

“The bottom-line thing we all have to understand is at the end of the day we need the best 53. We need a healthy 53. And we can’t afford to have anybody that we really, truly need to get caught up in something like this.”

So scrubs, go at it.

You guys who are good at football, try to get along.