The big news from the joint practice between Houston and New Orleans today was the multiple skirmishes that erupted between the two squads. John McClain counted 6 different bouts between the hometown Texans and the visiting Saints. Gary Kubiak resisted the bait to endorse the fighting, repeatedly stating that he would prefer composure to any team combativeness, but how should you feel as a fan of the boys in Steel Blue?
My first reaction to the news was immediate concern that Texan players were subject to injuries. There have already been too many medical setbacks thus far in training camp. Unfortunately the injury bug did bite the team today when Cato June broke his arm, although he did not suffer the injury in one of the intersquad fights. After it was clear that there were no long standing effects from the violence, I didn't quite know how to react.
The Raiders have always shown a renegade spirit, but that nastiness hasn't translated to very much on the field success of late. In fact, that renegade spirit may or may not have cost their head coach a suspension and some cash after he apparently broke the jaw of an unruly assistant. Still, a "punch you in the mouth" mentality is exaclty what you hope for out of your football team, especially the defensive squad.
After several years of a lackluster defense, everyone knows that that the D has to step up and try to match Matt Schaub's offense for the franchise's first playoff birth. So when I saw the video of the defense's unanimous leader DeMeco Ryans slamming the loudmouthed Jeremy Shockey, it brought a smirk to my face. The smirk grew into a full blown ear to ear smile when I saw a sea of the aforementioned Steel Blue pour on the two engaged players.
Despite the Texans being a Cinderella pick for the playoffs in 2009, the defense is still regularly criticized for their lack of talent. Sometimes though, energy can augment talent for success on the field. Every year there is a gutsy, underdog group that proves the experts wrong by winning games on seemingly emotion alone. I'm not saying that a couple of squabbles in August means that the Texans defense will be that group in 2009, but I certainly see it as a step in the right direction.
What about you BRB? Do you think that the fights are a positive sign, or an insignificant event in the preseason?