Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice talked Thursday about getting the ground rules set before Friday's joint practices with the Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota State, hoping to avoid the conflict that occurred last summer when the Vikings worked out with the Chiefs at River Falls, Wis.
Apparently, not everyone got the message. During the morning practice, about a dozen fights broke out, including two that involved nearly the whole team.
The first centered on rookie defensive tackle Brook Lesnar, who touched off a melee with a tackle on Kansas City running back Ronnie Cruz. While Lesnar was on Cruz, Kansas City's Ryan Lilja jumped on Lesnar.
"That's the best time I've had since I can't remember when," Lesnar said. "I have to prove myself. Whether it's fighting or clawing, whatever. That's what I'm going to do."
On the next play, the first of a special teams drill, one of the Vikings got dragged into the Chiefs' sideline, setting off another large fight.
"Anytime one of your guys gets trapped over there, you have to go help," said safety Brian Russell, who wasn't sure which teammate was in the initial fight."
One serious injury occurred during the seven-on-seven drills. Tight end Billy Baber caught a long pass down the middle of the field, then was sandwiched between safeties Corey Chavous and Russell. He fell awkwardly to the ground, holding a knee, then was carted off the field.
"It was a little bit different tempo that Mike Tice had his defense going than kind of what we agreed upon," Chiefs quarterback Trent Green said. "Two years in a row now we've lost a guy to a serious knee injury because of the tempo they choose to play. Somehow it needs to be addressed and I know we keep talking about it all the time, but that fact of the matter is, we still keep getting guys hurt."
Tice, however, said he felt good about the practice.
"I thought the work and intensity by both teams was very, very good," he said.
Last season, Chiefs receiver Demeane Douglas injured a knee after getting hit by cornerback Rushen Jones.
* Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, along with assistants Gene Washington and Art Shell, visited training camp Friday to watch the practices, then speak with each team.
* Receiver Marcus Robinson (leg), linebacker Mike Nattiel (ankle) and tight end Jermaine Wiggins (shoulder) did not participate in the practices.
* Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez (foot) also stood on the sideline, while running back Priest Holmes did not participate in the contact drills. The Chiefs were also without top receivers Johnnie Morton, Eddie Kennison and Mark Boerigter.
Lesnar Enjoys The Fighting
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