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Green Bay Packers' Nick McDonald, Marshall Newhouse tussle during practice

Aug. 23, 2011
 

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Injury report

• Returned: CB Davon House (hamstring), T-G Derek Sherrod (knee), TE Spencer Havner (hamstring). |
• Did not practice: WR Shaky Smithson (shoulder), CB Davon House (hamstring), S Anthony Levine (concussion), G Adrian Battles (Achilles), T Chris Campbell (knee), DE Lawrence Guy (concussion), DE Mike Neal (knee), WR Randall Cobb (knee), LB Frank Zombo (shoulder blade), LB Brad Jones (knee), DE C.J. Wilson (concussion).
• New injuries: LB K.C. Osiodu (chest strain, left practice Tuesday), C-G Sampson Genus (turf toe, left practice Tuesday).

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Fights in training camp are hardly a rarity in the NFL. But a fight between players at the same position is another matter.

During a team drill at Packers practice Tuesday, backup center Nick McDonald and backup tackle Marshall Newhouse scuffled apparently after a communication error between the two about a blocking call.

When they initially tangled, teammates quickly separated them, but as they were pulled off the field they continued to jaw and lunge at each other and did so again on the sidelines. Each time, teammates separated them before they threw punches.

“Yeah, it’s a little unusual,” McDonald said about fighting a teammate at the same position. “Like I said, sometimes it’s going to get heated, some miscommunication out there, that stuff’s going to happen. But we’re fine, we’re friends, we came in (to the NFL) together last year, there’s no hard feelings. We got over it.”

The fight came on the last play of a team drill, and while the rest of the team set up for a special-teams period, offensive line coach James Campen pulled aside McDonald and Newhouse. Campen had an arm around each as he talked, and when the conversation ended after a couple of minutes Newhouse gave McDonald a friendly slap on the shoulder.

“We’re brothers,” McDonald said, “guys are going to fight. It’s going to happen in practice, guys are going to get heated out there. We both understand. We were fine right after we calmed down. Sometimes, we know, we’re going to fight each other. I grew up with two brothers, we fight each other all the time, we love each other. That’s how me and Marshall’s relationship is, we’re brothers, so it’s going to happen sometimes.”

Said Newhouse: “We’re fine, there’s nothing to talk about. It’s just football.”

Most often, fights in practice are between offensive and defensive players, especially linemen. Defensive backs and receivers sometimes scuffle, and even on special teams there can be fights. On Tuesday, for instance, tight ends Tom Crabtree and Andrew Quarless had a brief shoving match with safety Anthony Bratton after a kickoff return.

But as was the case in the Crabtree-Quarless pushing with Bratton, the players on the same side of the ball usually defend each other, they don’t fight amongst themselves.

“I thought it was offensive and defensive linemen getting in a fight, and I turned around and it was two of our guys,” said backup lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. “It’s one of those things, it was hot in (The Don Hutson Center), everyone was getting a little salty. It’s that time of year you’re hitting guys a lot, and guys get frustrated a bit. Stuff happens.”

This has been one of the most fight-free Packers camps in recent memory. Maybe because there’s only one practice a day. The only other fight of note was when cornerback Tramon Williams and receiver Tori Gurley took shots at each other after a play two weeks ago.

“I’ll just say this, that one (with McDonald and Newhouse) in particular, I would say it’s about time,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’ve been in training camp for three weeks. It usually happens a little quicker. You get tired of working against each other or in that case with each other as opposed to against each other, but it’s not a big deal.”

The last known time two Packers teammates at the same position fought was in 2004, when cornerback Ahmad Carroll started a fight when he sucker punched cornerback Joey Thomas during an argument as the two walked out of a meeting.

The Packers’ coaches speak often about the importance of harmony in position meeting rooms, so lingering animosity would be a problem.

“I doubt (it will be an issue),” said Joe Philbin, the Packers’ offensive coordinator. “People have (short) memories.”

Said McDonald: “(Campen) was like the dad, taking the two kids aside and talking it out. We’re good, everything’s fine.”

Back in the House

Cornerback Davon House, who before getting injured 2 1/2 weeks ago might have been the team’s most impressive rookie in training camp other than receiver Randall Cobb, returned to practice Tuesday from a pulled hamstring.

House, a fourth-round draft pick, was in good position to be the No. 4 cornerback behind Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields before getting hurt. Jarrett Bush currently is working in that role, and House was a deep backup in his first day back from injury. But House, who as long as he’s healthy is a shoo-in to make the roster, has two preseason games to move back to the No. 4 role.

“I thought he did a good job of not opening all the way up (while running),” McCarthy said. “There is a process when you do come back off a hamstring injury, particularly a skilled player, you have to be smart. I thought he did a good job. Younger players, the most important thing for Davon is to be out there every day. When you’re not out there every day you get further and further behind. It was great to see him out there. I thought he moved well. He just needs reps, he needs to play.”

Extra points

• Both McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson said the league’s new rule to eliminate the inactive third quarterback probably won’t serve its intended purpose. This year teams may activate 46 players on game day instead of 45 in previous years, but if they don’t activate a third quarterback, they can’t play him even if the starter and backup are too injured to play. In previous years, the inactive No. 3 could play if the first two quarterbacks were injured.

McCarthy and Thompson predicted that most teams will activate only two quarterbacks and use the extra spot for another position and special-teams player.

“I was a little surprised they went the way they did,” McCarthy said of the change. “I’m glad we have 46 players up on game day, that’s great, so I’m not complaining. But I think it’s a totally different issue. I think the ability to train a quarterback in this league just got a lot tougher with the offseason structure (reduced), but we can talk about that in March. The 46 roster, game day, you’ve got your medical report, matchups, your opponent, there’s a lot that goes into that.”

• Offensive lineman Derek Sherrod (knee) and tight end Spencer Havner (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday. Sherrod had missed only one day; Havner missed the first two preseason games because of his injury.

pdougher@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter at Pete Dougherty.

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