Several times during the Raiders second OTA session, multiple media members present noted the players got in heated exchanges, some of which came to blows. One in particular occurred between rookie defensive lineman Jihad Ward and new offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele.
These fights often happen in non-contact practices without pads due to the fact that some players really get into it while others can take exception to it. Without assigning blame, it seems likely that the rookie got a bit overzealous and the established veteran didn't care for it.
Regardless of how these scuffles started, the mere fact that they occurred doesn't sit well with head coach Jack Del Rio who worries about discipline problems as well as respect for one's teammates. Something he make very clear is just not part of the way this Raiders team behaves.
"It's not a big part of what happens with the way we work and the way we have respect for each other," Del Rio said of the practice scuffles. "In just about every case it was a new guy who hasn't really... I pretty much take it on myself and say ‘ok, these guys have not been told' and that was a great opportunity so I laid it out for them what it's like here, how we treat each other, what the Raider way looks like.
"Hopefully we won't waste our time doing things like that. We want Raiders to take care of Raiders, we want to compete and play hard, but we want to be respectful. We want to understand how having self-control is used. Displaying real toughness is about not hurting the team, not getting yourself thrown out [of a game], having the discipline to do the right thing. That's real toughness. That's the kind of toughness I'm looking for. Real toughness. Anyway, we talked about that and I'd have to think that would be to a minimum going forward."
"I've never been a big fan of that whole fighting. I've always felt that as teammates you should respect each other. . . we can't afford to lose somebody, we can't afford to train ourselves in a way that's not appropriate for a game. When we're out here, we're going to simulate how we're going to respond in the game. And everything that we're doing we want to put our guys through the paces and have them react as they would in a game. The last thing we can have is a couple guys thrown out because they're not responding the right way, so there's an opportunity to teach, but from a culture standpoint it's not what we're looking for. Like I said, hopefully with the flair-ups that we had they understand the message loud and clear from me and we're able to go forward and do our business and not have that kind of silly stuff."
Messages don't get much stronger than that from a head coach. I'm gonna go ahead and say those players got that message.