With temperatures in Charlotte climbing near 100 degrees for the second straight day, things got predictably hot at Panthers minicamp.
Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, today’s practice was marked by a few scuffles, the most notable between left tackle Michael Oher and defensive end Kony Ealy.
“I think the heat got the best of us,” coach Ron Rivera said. “It’ll happen, and the same thing will happen in training camp, unfortunately. We’ve been going at it now for four weeks with OTAs and now minicamp, and this was our first day we had anything. So it was, unfortunately, inevitable and I think the heat really had a little bit to do with it.”
While pushing and shoving may be normal, Oher and Ealy were throwing punches, ended up rolling on the ground and had to be separated by teammates. Quarterback Cam Newton ran toward reporters (who were barred from taking pictures or shooting video of that part of practice anyway) in an effort at distraction, since it was apparently a bigger deal than normal.
“I don’t like the fighting, but I do like the fact that there was a standoff,” Rivera said. “Kony’s a young guy who’s learning and trying to learn how to cope and Michael’s a veteran guy. It’s kind of like the young bear poking the older bear.”
“I don’t mind the pushing and the shoving, but when you start swinging at one another, you’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to treat each other like brothers, and if you had a fight with a brother, you wouldn’t swing at him, you’d probably want to make sure you talk to your mom and dad. My office is open.”
As much as they don’t want to see the punches, the Panthers probably don’t mind at some subliminal level. They’re trusting Oher to protect Newton’s back this year (see how we got through that without saying it?), and they’d love to see Ealy win a starting job opposite Charles Johnson. So while the fight might be bad, seeing some fight from guys in key roles isn’t the worst thing.