Kenyan Drake emerged unscathed after being a prominent participant in the ugly training camp fight the Miami Dolphins had on Monday. So there’s no damage done because the team’s starting running back is fine, and it was a practice, and there was no ejection or team penalty as a result.
(Can’t say the same for Gabe Wright, a back-of-the-roster defensive tackle who was cut largely because he sucker punched Drake during the fight).
But Monday’s melee felt and looked too much like the 2017 regular-season finale against Buffalo — a game in which Drake was one of two Miami players ejected at a key moment in the fourth quarter.
Coach Adam Gase and Drake talked about that Dec. 31 game the following day. Drake apologized to the coach for his actions, which led to his getting the boot from officials.
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But there we were again Monday ... Tempers flaring on the penultimate day of training camp ... Some player taking shots or even cheap shots...
And Drake fully involved once again — grabbing or pushing someone either in defense of a teammate or himself while no one guarded his back, which left things open for Wright’s blow.
“Yes, we had a conversation about a couple things,” Gase said about the talk he had with Drake after Monday’s melee. “For me, I lost my cool a little bit because I was a little frustrated that he got upset because that [Buffalo game] is exactly the first thing that popped in my head.”
So what was Gase’s message to Drake?
“It’s a little harder to call plays when he’s out of the game or he’s not even available,” Gase said. “We talked about that and at the same time, I think he has a clear understanding of we’re counting on him. There’s a lot of people that if he’s not in the game or he’s not on the sideline or we don’t have him because he’s either ejected or he gets hurt because of something like that, he’s letting a lot of people down.
“I think that hit him to where he understands … He understood where I was coming from. I love his emotion, I love his passion. You don’t want to take that away, but at the same time, he’s a really good player and he’s young and we need to have him on the field.”
Drake says he gets all that.
“...You’ve got your teammates best interests at the end of the day,” Drake said. “Whatever the case may be in terms of my temper, me coming to somebody’s help or me starting something, my trying to finish something, at the end of the day you have to think about the future actions of what you do.
“That’s on and off the field. And so at the end of the day you have to make sure to put your best foot forward to be who you want to be and who you want to represent for this team and for yourself.”
But here’s the tiny issue with all that: Drake is an emotional player. He’s in his third season, so he’s still young. And sometimes the youth and emotion overcome his logical, calm understanding that getting into a brawl that will solve nothing can hurt his team.
“It’s kind of hard,” Drake said. “Hindsight is very 20-20 when it comes to the severity of somebody getting cut in a situation. And we’ve been banging for two weeks now. It’s easy to sit on the outside looking in and being like, ‘You should have more composure, you should do this, you shouldn’t do that.’
“Anger, tempers flare. You just have to be in that mindset in that moment to be proactive in how you can look forward to [make sure] I’m here the next day. It is what it is. It was an unfortunate situation. I wish nothing but the best for [Wright].”
Gase as the head coach has to manage the egos, tempers and personality of his players. And this situation feels like it needs more managing.
This needs more good work.
Because Drake said the right things after last season’s incident. And then Monday he joined a fight on behalf of Senorise Perry much the same way he had joined the Buffalo fight on behalf of Jarvis Landry.
Now he’s saying all the right things again. Perhaps another reminder or two of how important he is to the team might benefit everyone involved.
Because the Miami Dolphins need Kenyan Drake available for every game from start to finish. They don’t need him ejected or nursing an injury suffered in a football fight.
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