Jets’ chippy practice turns into sideline brawl in front of fans

Tebowmania turned into Wrestlemania for the New York Jets during one big training camp throwdown Monday at Cortland, N.Y.

About 20 players were involved in a brief brawl during a chippy practice after running back Joe McKnight and safety D’Anton Lynn tangled after a play.

Lynn, the son of Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn, shoved McKnight out of bounds after a handoff from Greg McElroy. An angry McKnight then fired the football at Lynn.

“That was a first,” Lynn said. “That’s never happened to me before, so I lost my temper for a second.”

The two got into it, with McKnight charging Lynn and throwing a punch that didn’t land. Lynn pushed McKnight – with help from cornerbacks Julian Posey and Donnie Fletcher – and all four went rolling through advertisement placards and into an area where reporters were watching practice.

“If you’re fighting, I mean, are you going to just love-tap him?” McKnight said. “I mean, you’re going to try to hit him. It’s a fight.”

Offensive and defensive players ran over to their tussling teammates and a pileup ensued. Several reporters scattered as the players jumped on each other and wrestled a few feet in front of a barricade where fans sit.

Coach Rex Ryan, along with several players, including Tim Tebow, ran over to break things up.

“I felt like I could hardly breathe,” said Lynn, an undrafted free agent from Penn State. “Everyone was on top of me, so I had to get out of there.”

Meanwhile, several other players jokingly acted as if they were taking swings at each other.

“As far as it being a melee, I don’t see that,” Ryan said in a statement issued by the team. “Now, it is a first – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sign get knocked over in a fight because it happened on the sideline, but it wasn’t a melee. Guys weren’t throwing helmets.”

McKnight said Ryan told him: “Keep playing hard.”

It all lasted about a minute, and the Jets went back to team drills as if nothing happened – with none of the players suffering any apparent injuries.

“Sometimes, offense and defense, you’re out there competing and sometimes fights happen,” Lynn said. “It’s nothing personal.”

Also, Santonio Holmes likely will miss New York’s preseason opener at Cincinnati on Friday because of a rib injury, leaving the Jets without their top wide receiver.

Holmes did not practice Monday, and there was no timetable for his return after he injured a rib in the team’s scrimmage Saturday. Ryan said initial indications were that Holmes had a broken rib, but X-rays revealed no fracture.

■ SAINTS – The NFL dismissed as “completely inaccurate” a report that it has offered a settlement and reduced suspension to linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Vilma was suspended for all of this season for his role in New Orleans’ bounty program, which he adamantly has claimed did not exist. Citing anonymous sources, reported the league offered Vilma an eight-game suspension if he would drop his defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“No such settlement offer has been made,” spokesman Greg Aiello said.

A judge has ordered the league and Vilma’s representatives to hold confidential settlement talks. A person familiar with those talks said he had “not heard anything that concrete from anyone at the NFL” regarding cutting Vilma’s suspension to eight games.

■ BROWNS – Coach Pat Shurmur announced what had been an open secret: Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, the No. 22 overall pick, will start Friday’s preseason opener at Detroit.

“Brandon is the starter and we’re moving forward,” Shurmur said. “We’re rolling and I’m not looking back.”

Weeden has taken snaps with Cleveland’s first-team offense throughout camp. Incumbent starter Colt McCoy is now competing with 10-year veteran Seneca Wallace for the backup job.

■ VIKINGS – Prosecutors in Houston again agreed to push back the court date for Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson to face a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge. A pretrial hearing was originally scheduled July 13 and it had been moved to Monday. Attorney Rusty Hardin said hearings would now be held Sept. 27 and Nov. 15.

■ DOLPHINS – David Garrard is listed as the first-team quarterback on Miami’s first depth chart, ahead of Matt Moore – who started 12 games last season – and first-round pick Ryan Tannehill.

First-year coach Joe Philbin called the quarterback battle “a fluid situation.”

■ TITANS – Tennessee wide receiver Kenny Britt met with league officials in New York after being charged with driving under the influence. The July 20 charge was Britt’s eighth run-in with police since he was drafted in 2009.

Britt met last August with commissioner Roger Goodell, who did not suspend him over repeated police incidents that occurred during the NFL lockout.

■ JAGUARS – First-round pick Justin Blackmon agreed to terms with Jacksonville after missing 11 days of training camp. The Oklahoma State wide receiver was the last first-round pick to reach a deal. He was chosen fifth overall.

The contract is worth about $18.5 million for four years, the maximum for a fifth pick under the rookie wage system.

■ PANTHERS – Carolina coach Ron Rivera said trainers are optimistic receiver David Gettis will be back on the practice field in about “four or five days.”

Gettis, who started 15 games in 2010, tore his left anterior cruciate ligament last year during training camp and has been rehabbing ever since.

■ BRONCOS – Denver signed veteran free-agent linebacker Keith Brooking. The 15th-year pro played his last three seasons with Dallas after an outstanding 11-year run in Atlanta, where he was the Falcons’ No. 1 draft pick in 1998.

■ GIANTS – New York cornerback Terrell Thomas might not be lost for the season after all. After getting a third opinion, the projected starting cornerback has decided to try to rehabilitate his right knee rather than have surgery.

Thomas saw noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and he concurred with the advice that the five-year veteran received from Dr. Arthur Ting in California and the Giants’ medical staff on how to approach the injury.

■ BILLS – Buffalo won’t have receiver David Nelson or center Eric Wood in the lineup for its preseason opener against Washington on Thursday. But receiver Stevie Johnson is considered probable.

■ FEMALE OFFICIAL – Shannon Eastin on Thursday will become the first female to officiate an NFL game when she works as a line judge for the Green Bay at San Diego preseason game.

Regular NFL officials have been locked out by the league. Eastin is a college referee who has worked in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (FCS division). She is one of the replacement officials hired by the NFL and has 16 years of experience.

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