Falcons’ Hawley tossed for fighting with Titans
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — A visit from the Tennessee Titans on Monday didn’t change the tone of the Atlanta Falcons’ fight-filled training camp.
One day after defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman was injured while throwing a punch at Joe Hawley, another fight involving Hawley led to the center’s expulsion from practice. Tennessee cornerbacks Tommie Campbell and Coty Sensabaugh also were involved in the altercation only about 20 minutes into the combined practice.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said he tossed Hawley because players are ejected from games for fighting. Smith vowed Sunday that the fights must end.
“The guys knew the rules of engagement. They were violated,” Smith said. “When they are violated, there’s going to be a consequence. ... During a game, if that were to happen, we’re going to lose a player. We need to know that we can’t be fighting.”
Hageman practiced Monday after X-rays showed no fracture in his wrist. Falcons offensive guard Gabe Carimi left with an apparent leg injury.
Smith said the departures of Hawley and Carimi, both projected starters, “put a lot of stress on some other guys” on the offensive line.
Still, quarterback Matt Ryan said he continued to be impressed by rookie first-round pick Jake Matthews, who is starting at right tackle.
“He really is as savvy as any rookie I’ve been around at any position,” Ryan said. “He plays very physical and he’s extremely athletic. I’ve been very impressed with him up to this point and I’m excited we were able to draft him.”
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said he was happy there was only one real altercation in the second combined practice between the teams in three years. He said at least one fight was almost inevitable as players had their first chance of the year to practice against another team.
“Competition. You could feel it when you first walked on the field,” Whisenhunt said.
“I was right over there by (the fight). We got it over, got it out of the way and moved on. We thought it might come. It came early and after that everybody settled down.”
Titans quarterback Jake Locker said he was surprised there was only one fight since the practice fields were filled with “guys who consider themselves for the most part to be alpha males.”
Whisenhunt, who praised Locker’s performance, said the Titans can learn from new looks provided by the Falcons.
“The best value of this is we get a chance to see our players compete against some other ones, and now we get to go back and look at it on tape and make some corrections and clean some stuff up,” Whisenhunt said.
Players wore full pads but, with the exception of a few overzealous big hits, there was no tackling.
Titans left guard Andy Levitre, who had an appendectomy on July 24, beat the timetable of his doctors, but not Whisenhunt, by participating in the practice.
“Andy said he wanted to come and do this, so that was the call,” Whisenhunt said. “That was ahead of what some predicted. We didn’t think that. We thought he could do that and he did it. It was good to see him out there.”
NOTES: The Titans host Green Bay on Saturday night in their preseason opener. The Falcons host the Miami Dolphins on Friday night. ... Falcons undrafted rookie WR Bernard Reedy showed impressive speed in breaking free for two long, crowd-pleasing touchdown catches. ... Titans DE Mike Martin (hamstring), DT Antonio Johnson (left knee) and TE Dorin Dickerson (strained leg muscle) were held out. ... Early in the practice, Smith introduced Whisenhunt to former Falcons star LB Tommy Nobis, who was watching from the sideline.
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