ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — It all began innocently enough. Receiver Jeremy Maclin sprinted upfield, running his trademark post route, when quarterback Alex Smith unleashed a gorgeous pass right on the money.
Then Marcus Cooper, the corner in coverage, held the back of Maclin’s collar while attempting to make a play on the ball. The pass fell incomplete, the two fell to the ground, and when both players arose, they quickly got in each other’s faces.
A push by Maclin followed, followed by a flurry of swings from both directions. And just like that, it was on.
The scuffle was broken up quickly, but receiver Albert Wilson and cornerback Steven Nelson later exchanged shoves, while running back Charcandrick West and cornerback Jamell Fleming did the same a few plays later.
It was the most chippiness the Chiefs have displayed all camp, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s actually good, it gets you through practice,” receiver Jason Avant said. “It’s part of the game. Guys want to make the team, and sometimes tempers flare, but you need it because no one’s going to pay your rent if you get cut, so you just go as hard as you can.”
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton downplayed the chippiness of the practice.
“To us, the main thing we want is to be as competitive as we can possibly be,” Sutton said. “What happened today, happened. I don’t think it’s any big deal, I don’t think there’s any ill will between anybody out there.
“It’s just two people that are trying to accomplish the same goal and got a little chippy. To me, it’s more about competing. That’s what you want. If that wears on somebody then that wears on somebody.”
So the fights weren’t a bad thing?
“Well, you have to be realistic about it,” Sutton said. “You can’t fight in a game because you’d be gone. Training camp’s a little different but honestly, I don’t think about it a lot. If it disrupts practice, it’s a bad thing. That one (Maclin and Cooper) was over and done with pretty quick and we didn’t miss any reps.”
Avant agreed, adding that it’s not something that lingers once practice is over.
“It all goes away, it’s just part of practice,” Avant said. “When you’re out there competing, you can say anything. Guys might say ‘Doritos’ and the other guys is like ‘What!’ It just happens.”