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Rams-Bengals joint practice devolves into helmet-swinging brawl fest

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A brawl that broke out Thursday during a joint practice between the Los Angeles Rams and host Cincinnati Bengals included a player swinging a helmet at an opponent.

In a video of the melee taken from a distance, Rams star Aaron Donald was shown tumbling away from the scrum with a Bengals helmet in each hand. The all-pro defensive tackle reportedly had been scheduled to meet with the media after the practice but was not made available.

There were no reported injuries from the fight or from scuffles that unfolded earlier in the practice.

The ill will Thursday also included, per reports, Bengals offensive tackle La’el Collins throwing a Rams helmet at Los Angeles linebacker Leonard Floyd.

Both head coaches downplayed the incidents, which occurred on the second straight day the teams — who met in February’s Super Bowl, won in the final minutes by the Rams — worked out against one another.

Zac Taylor of the Bengals said he would not “get into what happened.”

“It’s over,” he told reporters. “We got two good days of work in, and everybody’s healthy.”

Rams Coach Sean McVay, who was described by reporters at the scene as appearing very unhappy while he waded into the brawl to break it up, said later he was not inclined to “look at pointing fingers.” The incident marked a premature end to the joint practice, though Taylor indicated the session was close to its scheduled conclusion anyway.

“I just see guys swinging and some guys have helmets on, some don’t, there’s a scrum, you just never know what can occur, and my biggest concern in just unnecessary injuries for people that we’re counting on,” McVay said, via the Los Angeles Times. “… God forbid anybody gets hit in the head with a helmet off.”

The scene involving Donald brought to mind a fight during a November 2019 regular season game between the Browns and Steelers in which Cleveland’s Myles Garrett swung at and hit the unprotected head of Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph with the latter’s helmet. A day after the contest, which was broadcast nationally on a Thursday night, the NFL suspended Garrett indefinitely. The standout defensive end missed the final six games of the season before being reinstated the following February.

Individual teams have jurisdiction over the conduct of their players during practices, including joint practices. It is not expected that the league will take action regarding Thursday’s events.

It is up to the Rams and Bengals to “handle” the situation as they deem appropriate, said a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Rams declined to say Thursday evening through a spokesman whether Donald or any other player will be disciplined by the team for the incident.

“Emotions run high,” Taylor said of the several antagonistic incidents between his team and the Rams. “We’ve been working together for two days now, and that’s just some really competitive guys getting into it a little bit.

“You just want to make sure everybody’s healthy, and I think everybody’s healthy, so we’ll move on.”

Mark Maske contributed to this report.

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