New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham works out during practice on Tuesday. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 5:58 PM
METAIRIE (AP) — As a brief scuffle petered out in the middle of the second day of Saints minicamp, safety Malcolm Jenkins trotted to the edge of the practice field and said to no one in particular, "If we're like this in June, no one's going to want to see us in September."
The scrum began when new starting middle linebacker Curtis Lofton bumped quarterback Chase Daniel during 11-on-11 non-contact drills.
Daniel, who had recently been intercepted by Jenkins and cornerback Johnny Patrick, spiked the ball in disgust at Lofton's feet, and the two exchanged words before All-Pro right guard Jahri Evans rushed in to shove Lofton away from the quarterback.
Nearly every player on the field rushed in moments later and widespread shoving ensued with some players winding up in small piles.
"It wasn't necessarily in frustration," said Daniel, who is working as first-team quarterback during Drew Brees' contract holdout. "I was just mad that he literally just ran into me. But we cleared it up. We're good. ... It was hot, we were in the middle of practice, emotions flying everywhere and that's what happened."
Saints players put a positive spin on the episode, saying it shows that players are competing hard and taking minicamp seriously
"We're competitors and I think it's healthy," said Lofton, adding he came down against Daniel after jumping up in anticipation of a throw that he thought was coming, but which Daniel pulled back.
When Daniel spiked the ball near Lofton, "I kind of saw that as disrespectful and, you know, I had to have words with him," Lofton said.
"So offense had his back and defense had my back," Lofton continued. "Everyone's a competitor and everyone's intense."
Daniel said he also saw the scuffle as a sign of the offensive and defensive players bonding with their respective units.
"One off the best parts that I saw is just guys sticking up (for each other)," Daniel said. "It was nice to see that."
Jenkins, meanwhile, said such intensity in minicamp should bode well for the season.
"For us to be this intense and passionate about what we're doing right now, you can only imagine what it'll be when it actually counts," Jenkins said. "I think the intensity is great and I think the passion the guys have right now is really good. That lets you know nobody's lollygagging. Guys are trying to get better, so I like it."
Incidentally, Daniel said one of the hardest hits he has taken in a game was by Lofton when both players were in college. It was the 2007 Big 12 title game, when Daniel was quarterback for Missouri and Lofton a linebacker for Oklahoma. The hit came on an option play. Daniel kept the ball and Lofton read it perfectly.
"He was literally the hardest hit I've ever had in college," Daniel said. "He came through unblocked and just leveled me. ... I will always remember that."