Brawl ends joint training Los Angeles Rams-Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI — A brawl between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams forced both teams to suspend intersquad training on Thursday, the last day of the teams’ joint training sessions.

In a day of post-snap affairs, a melee erupted during a team drill involving the Bengal first team offense and the Rams first team defense. A Rams defender who could not be identified from a distance was engaged in Bengal La’el Collins’ right tackle. The defender had Collins wrapped up from behind, arms around his chest, seconds after Cincinnati ran back Joe Mixon was a few feet down the field.

Collins took an exception and hit punches as soon as he was free, leading to a huge argument that drew several whistles and flags from the crew on duty. Multiple helmets were removed, and a Cincinnati Enquirer photographer spotted Rams Aaron Donald’s defensive tackle with a Bengals lid in each hand. After the training, a video circulated on Twitter showing Donald waving a helmet several times during the scrum.

Players from both teams were scattered across the practice field closest to the street separating the Cincinnati practice facility and Paycor Stadium. After a few minutes, the teams decided to end the controversial practice.

Donald declined comment through a team spokesperson, who also said the team would not comment.

Rams coach Sean McVay previously said he didn’t want to make a big deal out of the feud and said in some cases it was just two teams defending each other. Both coaches said they wanted to be safe and get the right amount of work.

“I only see guys swinging and some guys have helmets on, some don’t,” McVay said. “There’s a scrum. You just never know what can happen. And my biggest concern is just unnecessary injuries for people we rely on, whether it’s for our team or the other team.”

Said Bengals coach Zac Taylor, “It just got a little scuffley.”

“We just called it,” Taylor said. “We were in the last [practice] period of time. We have two very good working days. So was it worth getting those extra few plays? No. So we called it.”

It was not the first time Collins was involved in a dispute on Thursday. He was found to be involved in two other brawls with a Rams defender. On one occasion he was replaced in a team practice by Bengal’s reserve tackle D’Ante Smith.

When asked about Collins’ role in the clashes, Taylor declined to go into details. Cincinnati did not make any players available after practice.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was the only Los Angeles player to speak to the media, was on the opposite practice field against the Bengals’ fledgling defense and had no details about the incident.

The two teams have Friday off before closing the preseason with a game Saturday in Cincinnati. Neither team is expected to play their starters in the final. Taylor said he doesn’t expect animosity to hand over.

Earlier in the week, Bengals security Vonn Bell said Taylor had passed on a message from team president Mike Brown about fighting after an increase in scuffles at other teams’ joint practices.

“You never want to be a headline,” Bell said of the front office message. “Keep everything clean.”

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