Does an NFL season really start until Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict levies a reckless, dangerous, and dirty hit on someone lined up across from him?
If not, then the 2017 season just started early—because Burfict turned his cheap-shotting ways onto his own teammates in practice on Tuesday, sparking an on-field scuffle between offense and defense.
During a scrimmage, a Burfict tackle hit running back Giovani Bernard below the waist. The back had returned to the field from a torn ACL on Friday.
— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 1, 2017
Predictably, the tackle drew the ire of the squad’s offense. Running backs coach Kyle Caskey voiced his displeasure, and tight end Tyler Eifert had words for the linebacker before members of the offense and defense got into a shoving match.
Gio Bernard and Vontaze Burfict were sharing a laugh at the end of the practice. Appears water under bridge. Gio: “He slipped.”
— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 1, 2017
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther defended Burfict, though he said what occurred in the incident “shouldn’t happen.”
“He kind of got blocked into Gio and went down. You don’t want to take the backs to the ground and get someone hurt,” Guenther said. “When it’s a live drill we can do that and that’s a different story.”
Burfict and Bernard were seen laughing together after practice.
“That’s my man,” Bernard said. “Tez is Tez. He’s going to play the way he plays. That’s my buddy. That’s my dude. It’s just early in camp getting some frustration out. That’s football.”
During the playoffs two seasons ago, a tackle to the head of defenseless Pitssburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown resulted in a three-game suspension for Burfict at the start of the 2016 season.
Three games into that campaign, the NFL fined Burfict for stomping on the leg of New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount.
The Bengals linebacker has amassed nearly $1 million in fines in his NFL career.