"We came out intense, that was excellent,'' Fassel said. "They were going after each other.''
They sure were.
The afternoon practice, in full pads, produced the liveliest action thus far in camp. The physical nature of the day was triggered when rookie safety Nate Coggins slammed a reserve running back to the grass, prompting hoots from the defensive players. Then guard Rich Seubert and linebacker Brandon Short exchanged not-so-pleasantries.
Next came the heavyweights. During a blocking drill, Michael Strahan took exception to some of tackle Mike Rosenthal's tactics, Rosenthal jawed back and Strahan followed with a push to the chest that triggered a brief scuffle, with Rosenthal on top of the scrum and Keith Hamilton rushing in to break up the tangle of bodies. The peace-making act didn't last long with Hamilton, who a few minutes later got into a quick but heated fight with Seubert, who refuses to back down to any defensive lineman.
When Coggins nearly decapitated receiver Derek Dorris on the far sideline, some of the younger members of the defense began hollering and celebrating. Fassel began screaming. "That's not what we're looking for out here!'' he bellowed. "We don't blow anybody up out here!''
Afterward, Fassel called Coggins' actions "just stupid'' and added "that doesn't show me one bit of toughness.'' He also said Coggins apologized for his actions and Fassel declared the matter closed.
Ike Hilliard missed both practices because Fassel insisted Hilliard take a few days off to rest his right bit toe, which remains sore. Fassel also said Jason Sehorn, who also missed both practices, will spend less time on the field and more time strengthening his thigh muscle, which was weakened as a result of off-season knee surgery.
"The best thing for Jason right now is to make progress developing his quad,'' Fassel said. "We're intensifying that and not having him decelerate on the field, which causes the pain.''
Offensive coordinator Sean Payton stated what most everyone has noticed early in camp: "The first three-four days all of our eyes are opened about this Tim Carter guy.'' Carter, the second-round draft pick from Auburn, appears far more polished than previously advertised.