The Carolina Panthers are set to take on the New England Patriots in Foxborough on Friday in Week 2 of the preseason and the two teams are practicing against each other this week. You may already be aware of that after yesterday brought several fights between the two teams. And not the pushing and shoving kind of fights, either. Punches were thrown, players were ejected, and Matt Rhule and Bill Belichick spent time talking to their rosters about keeping heads cool.
Well, a night's rest didn't do much to temper anybody. The fireworks started again almost immediately on Wednesday. Kristian Wilkerson, at the center of yesterday's scraps, got laid out on a kickoff and had to get carted off, leading to the first altercation of the day. Shortly thereafter, Christian McCaffrey took a bit of an unnecessary hit that sent him flying out of bounds and he threw the ball at the offending Patriot, leading to another big fight.
The beat writers in attendance have all noted they've never seen joint practices with this many fights before. It isn't unusual for tempers to flare when the players get to go against actual opponents instead of teammates after the long summer months of training camp, and coaches don't mind seeing some fiery attitudes. But this is a lot.
It is quite a surprise that the Patriots and Panthers are the two teams that appear to hate each other. There's very little history there outside of the Cam Newton connection and the 2004 Super Bowl. This level of bad blood is reserved for the AFC North, really. And at least on New England's side, a looming Bill Belichick lecture is often enough to dissuade everyone from stepping too far outside the lines.
Maybe Friday's actual game will get chippy.