For NFL fans, teams and even some coaches this is the time of year you want to see a few scuffles break out in practice.
It shows intensity.
It shows a will to win and the desire to keep a job.
It is he indicative of a new player trying hard to take someone else's position or just win a roster spot.
Coaches are usually just fine with a few extra hits following a play.
However, they draw the line when the helmets come off and when the pushing and shoving makes its' way off of the field and onto the sidelines.
It gets even worse when it is your team's star player who bare handily, throws a punch into the face of one of your key defensive backs.
That's when hands can get broken and facial bones get shattered and even worse, seasons could end with those kinds of actions.
Could the Carolina Panthers win if Steve Smith had gotten a broken hand and if Ken Lucas had broken facial bones?
I think it would be very hard for this team to go anywhere without offensively talented Steve Smith.
They would lack skilled defensive depth if Ken Lucas were out.
Really folks, I don't think these are the kinds of scuffles that coaches like to see.
So when full blown chaos broke out for a few minutes today at the Carolina Panther's Training facility in Spartunburg, S.C. Panther's coaches and management had to cringe.
Following a series of receiving drills where wide receiver Steve Smith faced off against cornerback Ken Lucas, an argument ensued.
That argument turned into a punch and that punch turned into a momentary, "all-out," brawl which took both coaches and players to break up.
Witnesses at the scene said an argument broke out between Steve Smith and Ken Lucas, following a missed pass.
The two men walked off the field as the "jawing" continued. Both players returned to the sidelines as the "special teams" unit took the field.
Things got a bit exciting from there as the fracas continued.
Steve Smith punched Ken Lucas in the eye area leaving a cut.
Coaches and fellow Panthers tried to quickly pull Steve Smith off of Lucas when second year linebacker Jon Beason finally restrained Smith.
When the two were finally separated, members of the Panther defense, openly showed their dissatisfaction with Smith and for a brief moment it looked as if a larger fight could have broken out.
But, order was quickly restored.
Following the altercation, Ken Lucas was walked to a tent area where he was given an ice-pack which he placed under his eye.
After tempers had settled down, Smith walked away with fellow receiver and friend, Muhsin Muhammad.
Steve Smith then walked back over to the tent area where Lucas was to, reportedly, check on the condition of Ken Lucas.
Lucas was then driven off of the field on a team golf cart and left practice to return to Charlotte for medical observation.
Steve Smith was then dismissed from practice and told not to return for the 3:10, afternoon session.
Before leaving the Wofford College complex , Steve Smith could be seen speaking with long-time friend and Panther kicker, John Kasay.
Steve Smith has been in a few on-the-field squabbles over his career and was involved in one other, high profile, altercation in the team's film-room in 2002.
Smith was suspended after that incident, which left former Panther, Anthony Bright, with a fractured orbital lobe.
Though Steve Smith could face a possible suspension it would be unlikely the team would actually issue a suspension and risk losing Smith for the crucial opening game at San Diego.
Steve Smith, the Panthers main offensive weapon and consistent scoring threat could likely face a fine and another tour of an anger management program for today's indiscretion.
Coach John Fox said "Anytime something like that happens you're obviously disappointed, it's part of football and you deal with it."
Following the early practice Coach John Fox had an extended talk with the team. Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme said Fox warned the players not to retaliate against Smith.
There are lessons to be learned here.
One, it is probably best to not engage Steve Smith in trash talk and two, hey Ken, I know you were in Seattle in 2002 but it probably best to keep your helmet on when you are going to get into it with number 89!
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