With the Dolphins practicing both in full pads — and in their air-conditioned bubble — for the first time this training camp, tensions escalated Monday, resulting in two confrontations between teammates, including a sequel to last year’s Danny Amendola/Bobby McCain dust-up.
Amendola and McCain fought during a game last season, when Amendola played for the Patriots. On Monday, Amendola responded angrily when he appeared to resent McCain holding him during a pass pattern.
After a play, they pushed each other and head-butted several times, though no punches were thrown. But Amendola extended his hand afterward and McCain reciprocated.
“We’ve been going at it for a couple of years now,” McCain said. “It’s good, competitive nature. He’s the same guy over there on the offensive side of the ball as I am on the defensive side of the ball — that energy, go get it, try to work hard, be competitive. I’m glad he’s on our side. We’re not going to hold any grudges. We’re teammates. We’re brothers.”
Meanwhile, rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and receiver Jakeem Grant were at the epicenter of another confrontation later on, prompting teammates to surround them.
“On one hand, I love to see the fire that our guys have,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “On the other hand, it takes away from us a little bit.”
Several confrontations between Dolphins players have happened inside the practice bubble in recent years. What is it about the bubble that leads to feistiness?
“Because it’s not 113 degrees,” said coach Adam Gase, who moved his team inside the bubble early in practice because of lightning around the Davie facility. “Guys are not going to get as tired in there as they would outside. “
On the Amendola/McCain battle, Gase said: “That’s fun to watch. They’re making each other better because they’re competing on every snap. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Meanwhile, as Grant left the field, special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi said to him: “Clubber Lang. Clubber Lang, you all right over there? You’ve got the eye of the tiger.”
James “Clubber” Lang was a fictional character created by Sylvester Stallone for the 1982 film Rocky III.
Grant said the fights Monday were a byproduct of the team practicing in pads.
“Whenever we put on pads, you want to bring that intensity, trying to see if they can make a big hit on us, try to make us drop the ball,” he said. “The one thing about us this year, we’re bringing that physicality right back to them. We’re all teammates. We’re going to shake hands afterwards because there’s no hard feelings.”
Grant said all of the receivers are “always going to talk trash, get under each others’ skin. Just get a little rise out of the defense, try to get them off their game. We back it up and sometimes the defense gets a good one on us, but we’re still going to talk trash. Every last one of us in that room is going to talk trash.”
Tannehill said he will talk trash with one player: McCain.
“I like to talk a little bit with Bobby because Bobby never shuts up and I like to get back to him as much as I can,” Tannehill said.
So is Gase OK with fights?
“He loves the intensity but he wants us to keep a level head,” Grant said. “Not get overheated and not cause a stupid penalty or something like that. Things like that can hurt us in a game. The one thing we have to do is keep our composure and live to play the next play.”
THIS AND THAT
Tight end A.J. Derby remains out with a foot injury that the team was doing tests on, and rookie Mike Gesicki again took first-team reps with MarQueis Gray. Thomas Duarte has received more work and made several catches the past two days.
▪ Through five practices, Cordrea Tankersley and Torry McTyer have started team drills with the starters twice each and Tony Lippett once.
▪ Brock Osweiler threw his fourth interception in five days, this one to Taveze Calhoun, and should have had a second interception Monday, but linebacker Jerome Baker dropped that one.
▪ FAU undrafted rookie Greg Joseph, staying competitive in the kicking competition with Jason Sanders, was 7 for 7 on field goals, including one from 55.
▪ Defensive end Cameron Wake said Charles Harris had the best offseason of any Dolphin: “He’s made great strides.”
▪ Former Dolphins star receiver Mark Duper and defensive tackle Paul Soliai were among guests at practice. The Dolphins are off Tuesday after five straight days of work and will practice again at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Nova Southeastern.