After 11 straight padded practices in ridiculous heat, the Jaguars were bound to have a skirmish at some point during training camp. This one continued well beyond the practice field.
Jaguars defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler had to be separated repeatedly by teammates following Sunday's practice, including while they walked off the field and toward the tunnel that leads to the team's locker room.
The first altercation between the two players began shortly after practice ended. Defensive end Calais Campbell was initially able to keep Ngakoue on one side of the field while defensive end Lerentee McCray wrapped his arms around Fowler and pushed him toward the other.
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Seconds later, Ngakoue slipped out of Campbell's grasp and sprinted toward Fowler. Defensive tackle Abry Jones restrained the two players, keeping the situation from escalating.
Several other players, including cornerback Jalen Ramsey, safety Don Carey and defensive end Carroll Phillips, were still on the field. Upon seeing reporters film the altercation, Ramsey shouted, "Hey, man, y'all stop recording that s---, man."
Another skirmish involving Ngakoue and Fowler appeared to break out once they were off the practice field and headed toward the stadium. It's unclear what sparked either incident.
Fowler, 24, is in the final year of his rookie contract and is due $3.64 million with a $7.47 million cap hit. The former No. 3 overall pick has 14 sacks in two seasons on the field, including two during last year's AFC title game. Still, the Jaguars opted not to pick up his fifth-year option for 2019, which would have paid Fowler $14.2 million.
Various off-the-field issues could have contributed to that decision. Most recently, Fowler, who came off the physically unable to perform list Saturday, was suspended without pay for the Jaguars' Week 1 game against the New York Giants after violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. That stemmed from a July 2017 arrest in his hometown in which Fowler was accused of hitting a man who had criticized his driving.
Meanwhile, Ngakoue has become one of the Jaguars' top players. After supplanting Fowler as a starter during his rookie season in 2016, he went on to become the first player in franchise history to record at least 20 sacks over his first two years.
Including the playoffs, Ngakoue, a former third-round pick, has 21 career sacks. Due a base salary of $735,101 in 2018, Ngakoue is one of the league's best bargains.
Minutes before the original altercation between Ngakoue and Fowler, a separate incident halted Sunday's practice. That happened after tight end James O'Shaughnessy caught a pass from quarterback Blake Bortles and appeared to be shoved out of bounds by Fowler. Most of the team moved toward the sideline, including Bortles, making it difficult to determine which players were directly involved.
The Jaguars are not scheduled to practice Monday and are expected to hold a lighter practice Tuesday. After that, they travel to Minnesota for joint practices with the Vikings on Wednesday and Thursday.
Phillip Heilman: (904) 359-4063