For a Jets team that showed little fight down the stretch run last year, this wasn’t exactly the type of feistiness head coach Rex Ryan was hoping for. But at the very least, yesterday’s melee showed a team with a pulse.
Midway through Monday’s practice, running back Joe McKnight and rookie cornerback D’Anton Lynn got involved in a scuffle that extended to include roughly 20 players. The brawl spilled to the sidelines and took several minutes to get settled.
“I didn’t see anything. I was all the way on the other side and I just ran over and started pulling people off,” quarterback Tim Tebow said. “I don’t even know who started it.”
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Fights are a common occurrence in camp and a given as temperatures mingle with frustration and competition boils over. With the same players going against each other every day, feuds can linger and carry over into the next practice.
According to reports, the altercation occurred when Lynn pushed McKnight when the running back had already run out of bounds. McKnight responded by throwing the ball he was carrying at Lynn’s helmet and then going after the player.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was named a captain last year, said he was “not a fan of fights” and didn’t like the emotions that eventually resulted.
“I mean if you throw a ball at someone in a game, you’re going to cost us 15 yards, so I don’t know if that’s a great habit to get into,” Sanchez said.
The fight took place near where the members of the media were stationed and just feet away from Jets fans, who cheered like hockey fans as players piled on top of one another.
Saturday’s first preseason game against Cincinnati can’t come at a better time for the Jets as it affords the team the opportunity to hit someone other than themselves.
During the first three seasons under head coach Rex Ryan, the Jets earned a reputation for running a loose ship and having a volatile locker room, so Monday’s altercation doesn’t come as a surprise to many on the outside looking in. But Tebow said the mood and atmosphere of the Jets isn’t toxic and Monday’s melee was atypical of what he has experienced so far.
The volatility and tension in camp is less than what he experienced in college at Florida or his first two seasons in the NFL with Denver, he said.
“Probably less than what I’m used to from college and in Denver. I think this team does a good job of taking care of one another,” Tebow said. “Today got a little chippy obviously, but for the most part I think this team does a really good job of taking care of one another.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for more offseason news.