Seahawks Michael Bennett on Frank Clark "crossing the line" in camp fight with Ifedi
RENTON If Michael Bennett says you’ve crossed a line, man, you sure have crossed a line.
That’s what Frank Clark did in the fourth practice of training camp.
Clark leaped into a scuffle between defensive and offensive linemen during a pass-rush drill on Thursday and punched offensive tackle Germain Ifedi in the face.
Ifedi, who was not in the drill at the time, did not have a helmet on in the fight between Seattle’s top draft choices from the previous two years.
Coach Pete Carroll came from another drill up the field to break up the fighting, which even by the Seahawks’ daily, chippy standards was raucous. Carroll tossed Clark from the practice.
The top draft choice in 2015 walked off the field steaming like an ejected hockey player while an assistant escorted him inside to the locker room.
Ifedi stayed face-down on the grass for a moment after the punch from the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Clark. Trainers eventually assisted Ifedi to his feet. The 6-5, 325-pound tackle appeared to be bleeding in the area near his mouth as he walked into the team’s building.
“It’s just a regular camp-type (fight), tempers flare, frustrations and stuff like that,” Carroll said. “Then somebody goes overboard. We can do that. We can’t do it that way.
“I know it happens all the time, happens all around the league in ball. But it’s not OK. Can’t do it in a game, you get ejected -- which you saw happen (Thursday). Somebody can get hurt -- which you saw happen.
“So we’ll take a big stance against it. Really disappointed that it happened on day four.”
Carroll didn’t give details on how hurt Ifedi was, other than to say “he’s all right.”
Bennett fought early and often with Ifedi and others throughout 2016’s training camp. He admitted he as a semi-regular camp instigator is a peculiar guy to comment on crossing a line.
"I’m just as guilty as the next person,” Bennett said.
But he said Clark was guilty Thursday.
“Scuffles happen in camp sometimes,” Bennett said. “I think we may have crossed that line today.”
Asked what he would tell Clark, Bennett said: “You just tell him to go apologize to the guy... let him know that you made a mistake and you won’t cross that line again.”
So what’s the line?
“Fighting to the point you hurt each other,” Bennett said. “That’s the line.”
Carroll champions having his players push the boundaries of intensity in practicing and playing. Yet he was as pointed as he ever is in talking about the fight.
“There is no room for fighting in football,” the coach said. “It’s not part of this game, not supposed to be part of this game, and we frown upon that very heavily. Very disappointed that happened today. We have to learn to do it better, and be right.”
The entire mess began where most training-camp fights do: during the no-holes-barred alley fights that are the one-on-one pass rushing drills between offensive and defensive linemen. The Seahawks were wearing helmets and shoulder pads on Thursday.
Newly acquired defensive tackle Rodney Coe lost his balance while engaged with backup center/guard Will Pericak at the end of a snap. While starting to fall Coe grabbed Pericak near the shoulder and threw him 10 yards behind the drill into a water bucket parked on the grass. Fans about 10 yards away gasped, then started nabbing photos with their smart phones.
Justin Britt and Rees Odhiambo were the first two to come to the defense of Pericak, their fellow offensive linemen. Then all Hades broke loose. Clark got into the fray with a flying punch that glanced off the mosh pit. Pushing and shoving followed. Coaches intervened. For the moment it was calm enough to reset for the next snap.
Then Ifedi, not in for the next snap, charged into a gaggle of defensive ends and tackles standing off the side of the drill. That’s when Clark jumped in, as if off a top rope of a pro wrestling ring.
But his flying punch was absolutely real. And damaging.
George Fant, Ifedi’s offensive tackle partner on the opposite side of the Seahawks’ line, noticed how his fellow offensive linemen came to Ifedi’s defense. That created the second, final brawl that Carroll ended.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely,” Fant said. “I mean, I was a little out of (the fight) at that point.
“Just competing, you know? Just playing ball, the fun way, and competing. Sometimes, it gets there. It’s OK.”
But not completely OK with their head coach.