PITTSBURGH — The Steelers’ practice week, shoved in between the end of the preseason and the start of regular season work, certainly had the potential to be a sleepy one for the team’s veterans with secure roster status.
That turned out not to be the case, with an exclamation point as star wide receiver Chase Claypool and All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick got into a tussle near the end of practice on Monday.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was mum when asked about the situation, saying “I have no idea what you’re referring to” when asked point-blank about the scrap.
He was only slightly more forthcoming when asked about a lengthy on-field speech given to his team after practice.
“I’ll keep it between myself and them,” Tomlin said. “We talk openly about this process, where we are in it, what we need to do to improve daily. We assess days and sometimes, I assess it on site, and sometimes, I assess it on site, as opposed to the next day, because immediate feedback is needed.”
The team’s players were slightly more revealing, as left guard Kevin Dotson confirmed that it was Claypool and Fitzpatrick that needed to be separated.
“You come out here and you’re pretty much fighting a person for two hours,” he said. “Eventually, something might happen. That’s been happening since little league … If you’re going to compete, competitors are going to fight. They’re two of our biggest competitors. So, I kind of almost expect it to happen at least once.”
Veteran defensive tackle Tyson Alualu similarly dismissed the notion that having two players fight is a bad sign for the team — as long as the result is that no one gets injured.
“I think we’re still in that training camp mode, where it’s that competitive edge and people are getting chippy,” Alualu said. “I think it’s just part of the game. I don’t think it’s anything that you have to look into. It’s part of the game. It’s part of football. But we understand we don’t want, especially our star players, we don’t want anybody getting hurt. So we’ve got to be more smart about that.”
When asked if having players get into it during the course of work is counterproductive at this point of the calendar, Tomlin was clear, and again succinct, saying simply, “no.”
Defensive end Chris Wormley agreed that he did not expect there to be an issue with the players involved going forward.
“I think those two guys will make up and they’ll carry on and prepare for Buffalo in Week 1,” he said.