While training camp scuffles are par for the course this time of year -- especially when soreness sets in and the heat ramps up -- the one that took place Tuesday afternoon in Cincinnati felt noteworthy.
Mercurial linebacker Vontaze Burfict met running back Giovani Bernard just behind the line of scrimmage and finished the tackle low, wrapping his arms between Bernard's knees and calves. Bernard, for those who don't remember, tore his ACL in November but did seem to hop up unscathed after the tackle.
The hit was met with some loud protests from the offensive staff. Video taken by Cox Media Group during the play seems to show running backs coach Kyle Caskey fly in to scold Burfict before a few dozen players join the scrum (*Warning, video contains some strong language*).
After practice, however, Burfict and Bernard shared a laugh and Bernard downplayed what happened. "He slipped," Bernard told reporters, via The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The hit illustrates, at times, how difficult it is for a linebacker to find the perfect target on an offensive player at full speed. With severe penalties attached to headshots, defenders are forcing themselves to go lower -- in Burfict's case, he simply went too low. Given Bernard's injury history, the hit takes on a different meaning, which is why Caskey and Eifert were likely so upset. Head coach Marvin Lewis knows that he didn't sign Burfict for anything but his penchant for playing the game at full throttle. These are the cringe-worthy side effects Lewis knows he must deal with from time to time.