FOXBORO - You knew it was only a matter a time before we had our first training camp scuffle. And if you’ve been watching the first five days, you weren’t surprised at two combatants: Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore.
It happened in a team period down in the end zone. A Tom Brady pass pointed in Edelman’s direction fell incomplete. Edelman appeared to say something to Gilmore and after a few more words were exchanged, the pint-sized but powerful slot receiver had tossed Gilmore to the ground and jumped on top of him. Helmets were ripped off before Edelman himself was pried off the fallen corner by fellow wideout Chris Hogan. Once the fracas was quelled, first Edelman, then Gilmore, were summarily ejected from practice, though their departures were staggered to make sure there wasn’t another coming together.
“It's a hot day,” said Hogan. “Guys are competing. Tensions run high but at the end of the day, those guys will shake hands. It’ll be over with…we’re on the same team.”
Former Patriot Lawyer Milloy, long removed from the equation in Foxboro, still took the time to weigh in via Twitter:
— Lawyer Milloy (@LawyerMilloy) August 1, 2017
"That's just part of the game," linebacker Shea McClellin said. "We're coming out here, banging each other every play, 300-pound guys going out here, hitting each other every play. Tempers are going to flare a little bit. And it's the hottest day we've had so far. Definitely ramped up practice today, but it's going to happen. That's part of the game. Physicality."
McClellin said he's seen Edelman get under guys' skin before: "He always does that," McClellin said with a laugh. "That's part of his game."
"It's gonna be competitive," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "You get tired, you get hot, things happen. But we gotta remember, we gotta take care of one another. It's a long season and we need everybody, so you saw what that resulted in. [Players getting kicked out of practice for fighting has] been our policy so we all understand that, but sometimes things happen."
Knowing Edelman’s fire and Gilmore’s desire to establish himself as a presence, it’s as good a theory as any. Considering Edelman’s previously intense battles with the other lead corner, Malcolm Butler, it probably would have been something I’d have bet on in Vegas if there were odds for such things.
CSNNE Patriots reporter Phil Perry contributed to this story.