It is getting to that point in training camp where some players are starting to get on each other’s last nerves. There have already been a couple shoving matches taking place at training camp in Mankato and you can expect them to continue to happen every once in a while. Practicing out in the hot sun for hours at a time everyday does that to players and it doesn’t help that they aren’t supposed to tackle each other.
During Monday’s practice there was a little altercation between Jerick McKinnon and Gerald Hodges. McKinnon was running a stretch play to his left and Hodges was able to get off a block and get into the backfield. The running back then tried to cut around him, slipped and Hodges made the play.
After the play, however, Hodges may have celebrated a little too much. While both were on the ground, he started to crawl over McKinnon as a celebration and that rubbed the running back the wrong way.
“You know, you make a play and get happy a little bit, so you know there was a little bad blood at first, but it’s all clean," McKinnon said. "I love him like a brother, but sometimes when you’re on the field competing tempers flare and you don’t need anything like that, so it was a good play by him.”
After the play, head coach Mike Zimmer talked to Hodges about the celebration and instructed him to take it down a notch because the last thing the team needs is for players to be mad at one another.
“He said to ‘just calm down, make your play and go back to the huddle. You don’t want anybody riled up.’ But I was just letting him know that me and Jerick have a great relationship, but still have to make your plays and get back to the huddle,” Hodges said.
The linebacker went on to explain that he was just trying to have a little fun and lighten the mood. Everyone is tired and everyone is a little sore from all the practices so lightening the mood is understandable, especially since he is usually the one you can hear cracking jokes in the team locker room during the regular season.
Even though that’s not the way McKinnon took it, they have a great relationship with one another. By now, it’s just water under the bridge.
“That’s my big brother right there, so from a competitive standpoint we love to compete,” McKinnon said. “You’re going to go at it, that’s part of being a competitor. We have a great relationship; I hang out with him all the time outside the facility and stuff like that, so hats off to him on a good play.”
Still, McKinnon is going to look for his chance to show up Hodges a little bit; he just has to wait for the right moment.
“Oh, best believe I’m coming for him, best believe I’m coming for him, so definitely payback is in the books,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time of when I can catch him.”