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Titans downplay Blount punching teammate at practice

  • By Associated Press
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This punch won't be so costly for LeGarrette Blount.

The rookie running back capped off a feisty Wednesday night practice for the Tennessee Titans with a short punch to defensive end Eric Bakhtiari's helmet a few moments after having his own headgear ripped off for the second time in two months.

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Blount had just returned to the Titans after being excused since Sunday for personal reasons. He was carrying the ball in a drill near the goal line when his helmet came off, and he kept his feet moving toward the end zone. The play ended with some pushing and shoving, then Blount threw a right into Bakhtiari's facemask.

Blount quickly talked to Titans coach Jeff Fisher before leaving the field.

"He apologized, and I said he didn't have to apologize," Fisher said. "It's football. It's training camp."

Blount was suspended by the University of Oregon for eight games last season after he punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout after a Sept. 3 game. Without much of a senior season, Blount went undrafted, but the Titans, having traded away LenDale White, brought him in as a free agent.

Blount said Wednesday that his helmet had been intentionally pulled off on the play before the scuffle. A new NFL rule going into effect this season stops a play when a player's helmet comes off. Then Blount's helmet came off again.

Blount said he apologized to Fisher because he had promised the coach his fighting days were behind him.

"That was my past. It just came up again," Blount said. "I got into one of those situations where the defense pushed me too far. With training camp and everything going the way it is and being as intense as it is and me being a rookie, it was just something I shouldn't have done. But I did it."

Fisher downplayed the punch.

"His past is his past," the coach said. "Is that the first punch you've seen in camp this year? No. I'm not disappointed whatsoever. I have great confidence in the young man that he learned from his mistake, and he's very competitive. That's why we brought him in here is to watch him run the football like that."

Bakhtiari, who had a towel draped over his head, declined to comment to reporters in the locker room.

The Titans originally had been scheduled to practice under the lights at LP Field in a closed session. But heavy rains predicted to drop at least 4 inches of rain onto the field prompted Fisher to move the practice back to the team's headquarters, and they worked inside under the lights.

It was an intense, physical practice, with quarterback Vince Young yelling at receivers who didn't get to balls, and he even was popped by safety Michael Griffin. Fisher said it was the kind of session his team needed during essentially the last long week of training camp.

The Titans' preseason home opener is Monday against the Arizona Cardinals, then the teams will hold a joint practice two days later before Tennessee wraps up training camp.

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Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said Blount's reaction came because of the intensity of camp.

"If anybody else was to get mad, there wouldn't be a question. It would just be a guy getting mad," Hall said. "LeGarrette Blount gets mad, everybody wants to bring up his past. Guys pushed him. He reacted. It has nothing to do with what happened to him in the past."

Notes: Starting RT David Stewart missed most of the practice after being nicked above his left eye. He had to leave the field and received seven stitches. ... DE Jacob Ford didn't finish practice after hurting a leg.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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