At the beginning of Chicago Bears practice today, the tight ends and safeties squared off in 1-on-1 blocking drills. During one of the first reps, TE Martellus Bennett lifted S Major Wright off his feet and threw him to the ground.
On Bennett's next snap, he drove S Chris Conte 15 yards deep into the backfield. At a certain point, Conte got tired of being pushed backward and he yanked Bennett's helmet off. The two began jawing before Craig Steltz intervened. Yet almost immediately, Bennett and Steltz started going at it.
"From Day 1 I have been physical," Bennett said after practice. "I have gears. I’ve got a fifth gear I can take it in usually. You like when your teammates don’t like to finish blocks and things like that. Today, I feel like they got a little rough with me, so I got a little rough with them."
But it wasn't over by a long shot.
In the following 7-on-7 session, Bennett caught a pass over the middle. CB Kelvin Hayden hit the big tight end after the catch and threw him hard to the ground.
And it was on.
"Today, I feel like they got a little rough with me, so I got a little rough with them," said Bennett.
Bennett stood up and threw a punch at Hayden. Conte came running in from the sidelines, as well Wright and a few other defensive backs, and they all started wrestling. Within five seconds, the entire team was surrounding a pile of fist-swinging athletes. The melee lasted under a minute and everyone walked away unscathed.
"It’s just camp," said Conte. "It's the way things are. But we’re a family and we’re brothers. Brothers sometimes fight. But you know we get through it."
Later, during red zone drills, Bennett got into a bit of a shoving match with Wright again. At that point, Trestman intervened and talked with the team.
"[He said] just to cut it," Conte said. "Just to talk to everybody and get everybody under cool heads and just get back and get focused on practice. It really wasn’t anything big. It just shows that we’re competing and we’re getting better."
It's not uncommon for fights to happen during camp, although it usually happens with the third stringers, guys who are battling for a roster spot. Seeing starters go at it, that doesn't happen every day.
"It’s practice, it is what it is," Bennett said. "That’s what we’re here for. Everybody is aggressive, everybody is a little tired, everybody is a little sore. Guys do something you don’t like, you just react. I am an aggressive football player, I will never stop being one. I am a blue collar football player and that is what I always will be and I enjoy playing like that."
Coach Marc Trestman said the team used the scrum as way to raise their intensity on the field.
"It’s going to happen in a game where somebody’s going to lose their mind," Trestman said. "When one guy does, it’s not who he is, he just lost his composure for a minute. The team’s gotta bring him along and I thought the team did a very good job of pushing through practice and not lowering the effort, but actually the effort was raised and we finished with a very clean practice."
“Definitely. It gets everybody riled up," he said. "It gets everybody going even if you were not having a good day that kind of gets you going. It was a good day. Overall, today was a good day other than that little scuffle we got into. But that happens for teams. We’ll move on and get better."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.