NAPA, Calif. — Tempers flared on the field Thursday as two skirmishes broke out on the second day of joint training camp practices between the Raiders and Los Angeles Rams.
Viewers of “Hard Knocks” will be at least somewhat surprised to know that neither incident involved Oakland rookie defensive back Johnathan Abram, who was seen on the HBO reality show being cautioned about being too aggressive with his teammates.
The fights occurred on the opposite field from where Abram and the Raiders defense were taking on the Rams offense.
Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald was involved in the first incident with Raiders guard Gabe Jackson, who was injured later in the day.
Things appeared to have calmed down in the pass rush drill only to flare up again minutes later with Raiders rookie offensive tackle Tyler Roemer in the middle of the fracas after having his helmet ripped off.
Rams coach Sean McVay sprinted over from the offensive field to intervene but wasn’t concerned about the extracurricular activity.
“It was really already under control by the time I got over there,” he said. “Our leaders did a great job of getting things under control, and we’ll use that as a learning opportunity, and I think we did.”
Raiders coach Jon Gruden agreed.
“We had one scuffle that was uncalled for, but I thought for the most part our players played hard and we got a lot of work done,” he said.
Players from both teams unsurprisingly cited the other team’s frustration at losing the action on the field for the rising tensions.
The “Hard Knocks” crew captured the action from multiple angles, so the footage probably will air on the show’s second episode Tuesday night.
The teams will meet in their preseason opener Saturday in Oakland.
McVay assesses Raiders defense
Jared Goff and the Rams’ first-team offense got into a good rhythm in head-to-head drills, but McVay offered an encouraging assessment about the Raiders’ defense.
“Lot of new faces, lot of speed, lot of physicality,” McVay said after facing the unit for the second straight day. “I think you’re seeing guys get more and more comfortable with (Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s) system. There’s definitely some nice intricacies to it that make it really challenging to an offense.
“They’ve got some good depth up front, some middle linebackers that can play, and they’ve got some physical safeties and corners that can run. I think you can expect them to be a really tough matchup for offenses this year.”
Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead was pleased with how the defense performed in its first chance against another team.
“I think the last two days were great for us,” he said. “You’re going against a top-ranked offense, great team that went to the Super Bowl last year. The last two days were definitely a challenge for us to see where we were as a defense and how far along we are. I think in year two of the scheme, we’re definitely a lot further along than we were last year.”
— Gruden said wide receiver Ryan Grant and linebacker Kyle Wilber are day to day with back injuries. Neither practiced Thursday.
— Linebacker Nicholas Morrow’s absence was more unusual for an NFL training camp. “He had a dental appointment today that we couldn’t pass up,” Gruden said. “So he’s excused. I talked to the dentist.”