<span>The Saints and Houston Texans concluded their three joint practice sessions this morning on the practice fields at Reliant Stadium, and tempers ran neck and neck with the soaring temperatures under the cloudless Texas sky.
On four separate plays, spanning two fields, pushing and shoving escalated and caused both teams to come together in order to get order restored. Fortunately, none of the combatants on either team appeared worse for the wear.
"The guys really battled and competed and I think that some things boiled over on a few occasions," Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said. "It's not something either team wants, but at the same time things happen and the most important thing is to get right back to work and get the work in that we came here to accomplish. I don't think it will diminish from the productivity that both team took out of the two days and my conversation with (Texans Head Coach) Gary (Kubiak's) were that these were good practices for both teams and allowed us the opportunity to practice against different looks and further help us get ready for the season."
The most spirited scuffle occurred when Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey and Texans LB DeMeco Ryans exchanged shoves and an occasional fist flew before they were surrounded by teammates and pulled apart. Other scuffles saw Saints LB Troy Evans and DT Lynell Hamilton/Rod Coleman.aspx">Rod Coleman in the thick of things, while Saints TE Buck Ortega took exception to being flung to the ground after making a reception along the Texans sidelines. Tackling was supposed to be at a minimum as the teams were in shoulder pads and helmets, but often times that ball carriers were the recipients of a little extra physicality that seemed to spark the skirmishes.
"Sometimes things happen out there," said QB Drew Brees, who returned to practice after missing some practices this week to attend to memorial services for his mother, Mina, in Texas. "From everything I have heard since I rejoined the team last night, guys are pleased with the break in training camp and the opportunity to work against another team and the feeling is that there were some real positives to come out of the three practices against them."
Some Texans players apparently took exception to the Saints' physical practice habits and their penchant for ball-hawking, even after the play.
"Being tough is part of it, I don't think we want to take it to the level of fighting because that's going to hurt our team," Saints FS Darren Sharper said. "But being tough and challenging and being competitive are all things that (defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) preaches with his defense and being aggressive, also. All those things come along and sometimes things boil over. But it's over and we move on. It's no big deal."
One item of concern to Payton and the Saints is the fact that starting left tackle Jammal Brown was bothered by an injury to his groin/abdomen and was sent to a specialist in Philadelphia to have the injury looked at. Payton said that Brown's appointment was later this afternoon and the team would have a better idea of the severity of the injury following the examination.
The Saints will return to the practice field this afternoon, although the work will just be against the Saints, while the Texans will work separately on their own.
The Texans will host the Saints on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. (CST/FOX 8/Saints Radio Network).