A trend has been forming at Detroit Lions training camp–the defensive line dominates the O-line. It was no different at Monday’s practice and subsequently, tempers started to flare.
Despite the offensive line struggles, last year’s first-round pick Laken Tomlinson beat defensive tackle Stefan Charles on multiple occasions in one-on-one drills. Not long after their second repetition, pushing and shoving ensued. The usually level-headed Tomlinson lost his cool and threw a right-handed punch in Charles direction.
Before the dispute could escalate further, teammates jumped between the two to break it up. During the aftershock, Tomlinson continued to snap at other defensive lineman and tackle Riley Rieff‘s helmet was dislodged.
After practice, when asked about what transpired, Tomlinson diverted the negative situation into a positive.
Per Kyle Meinke at Mlive,
“Just got a bunch of guys competing,” Tomlinson said. “That’s all. Trying to get better as a team. I just see it as a bunch of guys trying to get better. They’re helping us get better, and we’re helping them get better.”
Defensive tackle Tryunn Walker shared Tomlinson’s sentiments, actually, he encouraged what happened.
“We need that, man,” said Walker. “Competition is what’s going to make us better. Like I was saying, we need that competition, we need that fire, to help us win.”
“Right now we’re against each other, but come September, we’re all one team. And we need that to get better.”
Head coach Jim Caldwell did not see the skirmish first hand, but with the technology of today’s game, the incident is only one video playback away.
“I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about, but nevertheless, I will probably see it in a little bit,” he said. “I think there’s a difference between being combative and competitive. We love to be competitive, but there’s a difference between being (competitive) and combative. Combative ends up being a little bit heavier hitting than you’d like in that situation, when you kind of take it … it’s not the heavy hitting, but it kind of takes it to another realm. The competition part of it, I think, is healthy.”
When it is hot, humid, and players are fighting for their jobs, it’s not uncommon for this type of thing to happen. Maybe Tomlinson has a little more of a mean streak this year, which is never a bad trait to have as an interior lineman. It’s safe to say the Lions are going to need it if early camp practices are any indication of the overall line play this upcoming season.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) August 1, 2016