Training-camp practices usually involve players from different sides of the line of scrimmage, who have been pushing and shoving and hitting and otherwise agitating each other for days if not weeks. When teammates on the same side of the ball fight in August, something else may be happening.
For the Ravens on Friday, a pair of players who play the same position got into it.
Via Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun, safeties Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark had a “heated confrontation.” As Shaffer explains it, a sideline argument late in the morning practice became something more than that, with Clark being held back by teammates and Thomas balling his fists. The situation flashed again later in practice, with cornerback Marlon Humphrey restraining Clark, and Clark soon after that leaving the practice field.
Clark was scheduled to speak to reporters on Friday, but his videoconference was canceled. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports that Thomas was sent home after the altercation.
“We’ll find out the details of it,” coach John Harbaugh said regarding the fracas. “It just lasted longer than it needed to for me. You’re going to have these things in training camp. I think you’re going to have tempers flare, sure. It happens every training camp, especially right about now, probably. But I don’t like them when they extend like that and eat into our reps, and we’re going to have to find out why and make sure that doesn’t happen. We need to keep our eye on the prize, which is preparing for the Browns.”
Jason LaCanfora and Ken Weinman of 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore later said that “there is mounting frustration” among the team’s defensive backs regarding Thomas. There are issued, they said, with Thomas being “punctual and focused” and “not freelancing.” Also, some veterans think third-year pro DeShon Elliott should get more reps in practice.
Regardless of the opinions of the other players, Thomas is going nowhere. His 2019 contract includes a fully-guaranteed $10 million salary in 2020, along with $15 million in signing-bonus money that has yet to hit the cap. However, it seems that pushback may be beginning from within, and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here — especially if the instincts of the other Ravens players are proven by things that happen when the real games start in 22 days.
UPDATE 10:21 a.m. ET: If the Ravens suspend Thomas for conduct detrimental to the team — and if the arbitration process upholds the suspension — the $10 million guarantee for 2020 can be voided.