By Will Burchfield
Joint practices are a nice idea.
NFL teams come together to test themselves against different players and unfamiliar schemes, while upping the competitive ante through a sometimes dull month of August.
But sometimes – often times, even – the competitiveness careers out of control.
The Detroit Lions will be in Latrobe, PA to practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday and Wednesday before the two sides face off on Friday night at Heinz Field.
Glover Quin, who remembers practicing with the New Orleans Saints in the first two years of his career with the Houston Texans, warned that the workouts might get ugly.
“They’re always fun until somebody starts acting crazy and people start acting crazy and then everybody starts acting crazy,” he said.
Quin, an eight-year veteran, is a customer as cool as they come. He seemed bemused at the hot-headedness of some of his peers, humored by the thought of players’ losing their tempers in a preseason practice.
In his mind, the workouts with the Steelers should be productive, level-headed affairs.
“Hopefully we can go down there and get some good work because they’ve got some really good offensive players who we want to get some good work against, and they’ve got some good defensive guys who we want to get some work with.
“So hopefully no one’s acting crazy,” he said.
That’s not to say they won’t, of course.
Despite his experience in these type of practices, Quin said he hasn’t made any kind of statement to his teammates about maintaining their composure. At the end of the day, he believes, football players will be football players.
“I ain’t gotta warn my guys. We’re going to practice. We’re going to practice how we practice. It is what it is. We ain’t gonna get bullied, put it like that,” Quin said.
In short, Quin doesn’t expect the Lions to stir up any ill will. But should they be provoked, he and his teammates will have no problem returning the favor.
Between the August heat, the rampant testosterone and the built-up competitive juices, the situation is ripe for a skirmish or two. A crowd will gather, some shoving will ensue and unfriendly words will be thrown back and forth.
Then players like Quin will step in and calm things down, and the teams will get back to business.
Coach Jim Caldwell doesn’t even expect things to escalate that far.
“I think both teams have done a great job of keeping their composure and those kinds of things, because I think it’s extremely important. I don’t foresee any issues,” he said.
But as tempers rise, that remains to be seen.