More than one month removed from the Riley Cooper mess in Philadelphia, the Eagles have made strides to move on from the wide receiver's racially insensitive comment said at a Kenny Chesney concert over the summer.
Cooper has kept quiet and produced on the field, but he was at the center of a scuffle during Thursday's practice, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The receiver tangled with cornerback Cary Williams before several teammates, including quarterback Michael Vick, stepped in to separate the two.
Several players, including Cooper, told Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com that the fight was unrelated to the Cooper's outburst in June. But one Eagle told McLane that Williams used a racial slur during the fight, shouting: "I'm not a (expletive) you (mess) with."
McLane noted that Cooper was "visibly distraught" and later stayed to the side during drills mixing receivers and defensive backs. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson eventually consoled Cooper before speaking one-on-one with Williams, who was critical of Cooper's comment when it went viral.
"We're trying not to make it a distraction, we're trying to get through it," Williams said in August, per NFL Media's Albert Breer. "But obviously, the magnitude of the issues makes it a lot harder to cope with. Everyone's gonna come along at their own time. We're trying to find a way to forgive, find a way to be merciful. Everyone has their own perspective. We're having a tough time. We're at a crossroads."
Williams made headlines in August after tussling with Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson during a scrimmage with New England. He also clearly shoved head linesman Steve Stelljes during a scrum in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, but escaped without so much as a penalty.
The Philadelphia Daily News reported Vick was "visibly upset" in the post-practice locker room, jerking his head toward Williams as he told reporters: "I try to be the peacemaker, but these young dudes don't respect me."
Said Vick: "Our maturity level's gotta be on a whole different plane. Regardless of who the catalyst was for the whole fight, that doesn't matter. We've gotta be men. We're not guys who are out on the street, fighting one another. We're teammates ... It's game week. We don't have time for that. I don't. It's a distraction."
It's unfair to assume Cooper's controversial comment was the kindling for Thursday's fight. Scuffles at practice are commonplace, but any entanglement involving Cooper raises obvious questions about where his teammates stand with him, just four days away from the season opener.The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.