Toby Gerhart takes another hit -- and this time, he fights back
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MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings almost got through training camp without a fight.
Defensive end Ray Edwards decked rookie running back Toby Gerhart during the final full-squad practice on Thursday morning, setting off a wild scene in which multiple coaches ran into the scrum and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier battled to restrain Edwards.
According to Edwards, Gerhart did something -- he wouldn't elaborate -- to provoke the two-handed shove, which sent Gerhart flying as he tried to return to the offensive huddle during a 2-minute drill.
"It wasn't incidental -- it was on purpose," Edwards said. "He did something that you're not supposed to do against your own guys. So, it is what it is, and hopefully, we don't have that reoccurring act."
Gerhart said he simply chipped Edwards before he released down the middle of the field.
"He didn't like that chip, I guess," Gerhart said.
Either way, Gerhart -- who has taken more hits than anyone in this camp -- finally stood up for himself, popping up from the ground and getting in Edwards' face.
"You've got to have a little edge to you -- you've got to have a little stink about you," coach Brad Childress said. "Toby's choking it back and understands the rookie role and all that kind of stuff. But you're only going to take it for so long."
Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy immediately ran toward the pile, screaming at Edwards, who eventually was pulled away by Frazier. Then, Edwards and Frazier had words at close range, with Edwards struggling to get out of Frazier's grasp before Jared Allen separated them.
Minutes later, things had cooled, and Allen and Edwards were seen laughing with teammates on the sideline.
"We talk in our meetings all the time about what a personal foul can do for our defense, and particularly, with our key guys," Frazier said. "It's tough in our league now, with depth being what it is, so you're just trying to let cooler heads prevail and not get caught up in stuff. It's a great teaching moment for us when we get in our meetings to talk about it as a group, and something we'll learn from."
That wasn't the only heated moment on another hot, humid day at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
One-on-one pass blocking/rushing drills approached a boiling point as Brian Robison repeatedly bull-rushed the team's younger tackles, and several matchups went beyond the whistle. At one point, Robison requested an extra rep against tackle Patrick Brown, bulled him back and then celebrated by throwing off his helmet and raising both arms as other defensive linemen cheered him on.
The next period was the 2-minute drill, which Edwards opened by whipping right tackle Phil Loadholt for a touch-sack. The defensive sideline continued to jaw throughout the period, which ended one play after the Gerhart hit with Allen sacking Tarvaris Jackson.
The second-team offense failed to record a first down in its 2-minute chance, with safety Jamarca Sanford breaking up a Sage Rosenfels pass on fourth down. And the third-team offense reached the 9-yard line before cornerback Benny Sapp made a remarkable, leaping interception on a fade pass from Joe Webb to Logan Payne.