BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey and defensive tackle Phil Taylor exchanged uppercuts and haymakers during Wednesday's mandatory mini-camp practice at the team's Berea training facility.
Gilkey threw a couple punches before he lost his helmet and Taylor swung back. It took several players and coaches to separate the two players, as Gilkey stands 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 320 pounds, while Taylor checks in at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds.
Following the practice, Gilkey tweeted: "Sometimes, things get heated. Doesn't change the fact we stand together on Sundays. One common goal!! #Go Browns."
"We're all wearing the same logo," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "I always use the phrase, 'Competitive not combative.' That line gets crossed every now and again, but I also think that's a by-product of what we're trying to build, the mentality. It's something that happens. As a coach, you frown on it, but at the same time, you understand it might be the price of doing business.
"There are some guys that are maybe more apt to get involved in it just because of the nature of how they play. I think there might have been a hair pull or two at the end, and I think that's why it took us a little while to get it broken up."
Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo was one of the players who tried to step in and break up the scrum.
"I was downfield," Mingo recalled. "I didn't know what happened, so I had to run in and try to break it up. It's a physical sport. Tempers flare. When somebody feels like they've been wronged, they're going to retaliate, and that's what happened. You've just got to break that up. You can't have that."
While Pettine wants his players to play to the edge of the line separating competitive spirit and combative actions, some of those who step between the white lines saw it as athletes expressing their passion for the game.
"There's nothing wrong with that," veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson said. "If you're not passionate about this sport, then, you're in the wrong sport. Occasionally, you're going to get angry. You're going to get pissed off at the guy you look at every, single day.
"We get tired of seeing each other. We're fighting and scratching all summer. Sometimes, the conditions, the weather, the monotony, it gets to you. Every once in a while, there's going to be some punches thrown. As long as it stays on the field and we don't have something in the locker room, we're okay."
The only thing Burleson saw wrong with the situation was the fact that veteran wide receiver Miles Austin jumped into the fray before being pulled away from contact.
Austin has yet to participate in full team drills because he has not had a full offseason of work and the Browns do not want him to suffer a soft-tissue injury like those that have plagued him through the latter part of his career.
"He needs to keep his butt out of there," Burleson said with a smile. "He's too old for that."
GILKEY MAKES ADJUSTMENT
Now in his second NFL season, Gilkey is attempting to make the transition from NCAA Division II All-American at Chadron State College to professional lineman. And in a short sample size, Gilkey has made an impression on his new head coach.
"He's had a good camp for us," Pettine said. "He'll be right in the mix for that guard job. We talk about competition at all positions, and that's one that's a good example. He'll be in there with (John) Greco, (Paul) McQuistan fighting for those inside jobs.
"I think he's handled it well, but that is tough for a guy that hasn't gone against that level of competition, but he's been solid. The coaches have been very pleased with his progress so far."
MCQUISTAN TO COMPETE
The Browns signed McQuistan, a nine-year NFL veteran, to a contract back in March in an effort to add competition to their offensive line. However, they did not sign the former Seattle Seahawk with the exclusive thought of making him a backup offensive lineman.
"He's shown that he can play," Pettine said. "I don't know that he can play center, but he would be comfortable at any other position, but I don't want to pigeon-hole him as a guy that's a backup and we're just going to use him as a swing guy. He's capable of starting. He'll compete for a starting job, but he's also shown the versatility that he can play other spots."
VISIT FROM DAD
Over the last two days, there has been more than one Pettine on the Browns' sideline.
Pettine's father, Mike Sr., a legendary former high school coach with more than 300 wins and multiple Pennsylvania state championships at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, joined his son on the sideline and was able to pass along some of his knowledge during film sessions with defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil.
"We were watching some of the practice tapes, and had I wouldn't say heated, but Italian conversations this morning before practice, he, I and Coach O'Neil," Pettine said with a laugh.
"It's great to have him here. He's just another guy who's not immersed in the scheme, but I always say it's nice to get the 30,000-foot view instead of when you're deep in it. A lot of times, it's sometimes how you say it and how you package it. Usually, the content's accurate, but sometimes, my defenses go up when he delivers the message the way he delivers it."