CINCINNATI — A brawl between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams forced both teams to end their intersquad practice on Thursday, the teams’ last day of joint practices.
On a day filled with post-snap issues, a scuffle broke out during a team drill featuring the Bengals’ first-team offense and the Rams’ first-team defense. A Rams linebacker who was unable to be identified from afar was engaged with a Bengals right tackle La’el Collins. The defender had Collins wrapped up from behind, arms around his chest, seconds after the Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon was a few yards downfield.
Collins took exception and swung punches after he was free, sparking a massive brawl that drew multiple whistles and flags from the refereeing crew. Multiple helmets have been removed, with sighting by a Cincinnati Enquirer photographer Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald holding a Bengal blanket in each hand. After practice, a video circulated on Twitter appearing to show Donald brandishing a helmet several times during the melee.
Players from both teams were strewn across the practice field next to the street separating Cincinnati’s practice facility and Paycor Stadium. After a few minutes, the teams decided to stop the contentious practice.
Donald declined comment through a team spokesman, who also said the team would not comment.
Rams coach Sean McVay said earlier that he didn’t want to make a big deal out of the brawl and said in some cases, it was just two teams defending each other. Both coaches talked about wanting to be safe and wanting to put in the appropriate amount of work.
“I just see guys waving and some have helmets, some don’t,” McVay said. “It’s a scrum. You just never know what can happen. And my biggest concern is just unnecessary injuries to people we rely on, whether it’s for our team or the other team.”
Said Bengals coach Zac Taylor: “It just got a little rowdy.”
“We just called it,” Taylor said. “We were in the last [practice] period We got two really good days of work. So is it worth getting the extra couple of plays? No. So we called it.”
It wasn’t the first time Collins was embroiled in controversy on Thursday. He appeared to be involved in two other altercations with a Rams defender. On one occasion, he was replaced in a team drill by a Bengals reserve tackle D’Ante Smith.
When asked about Collins’ role in the riots, Taylor declined to go into specifics. Cincinnati did not make players available after practice.
Rams quarterback Matthew Staffordwho was the only Los Angeles player to speak to the media, was on the opposite practice field working against the Bengals’ starting defense and had no details about the incident.
The two teams must have Friday free before they close the preseason with a game Saturday in Cincinnati. Neither team is expected to play their starters in the playoffs. Taylor said that he does not foresee any hostility to bear.
“You never want to be a headline,” Bell said of the message from the front office. “Keep everything clean.”