Two interesting intra-squad rivalries have emerged recently, which naturally lead to some questions.
Jeff Backus vs. Dewayne White (photos from detroitlions.com)
First up is Jeff "On My" Backus vs. Dewayne "The Brow" White.
According to a report by The Free Press, White beat Backus in a pass-rushing drill (oh my god! really?), and Backus tried to hold White's jersey. White apparently pancaked Backus (the shocks keep rolling in, don't they?) and Backus rose and got in White's face. The players were separated.
A few plays later, White allegedly hits Backus in the chin, to which Backus responds by throwing White to the ground and punching him. Players intervene, and some guy named Frank Davis hits somebody. Supposedly that's all we need to know.
The first thing to realize is that this is NOT an indicator of major chemistry issues. From what I've heard from people who play football, and as suggested by the article, this type of thing happens in training camps all the time. Two guys who are fighting for their livelihoods go up against each other over and over in the sweltering heat, and something pushes them over the edge. Both players have written the incident off on these grounds. "We let it go, [left] it on the field," Dewayne White commented. "He said his piece, I said my piece. It's over." Rod Marinelli naturally wasn't pleased, launching into a spiel about "mental toughness," but that is about as surprising as White beating Backus off the edge in the first place. As far as Rod is concerned, not finishing a cheeseburger is probably a sign of mental weakness.
More concerning is the fact that White allowed Backus to throw him to the ground. When I first heard about the fight, my initial reaction was, "is Backus still alive?" Naturally, I was very disappointed. But seriously, does anyone remember a play in the Redskins game last year when 'Skins DE Andre Carter literally threw Backus to the ground with one arm as an afterthought? I know Ace does. Carter had already beaten him inside, and he just reached back with one arm and leveled our starting left tackle. Carter is 252, White is 273. I know you can't actually infer anything about how such an incident translates to the football field, but White should be embarrassed. I'm giving this round to Backus.
Round 2: Jerome Felton (photo from Detroit Free Press) vs. Buster Davis (busterdavis.com)
Our next match-up is rookie fullback Jerome Felton, versus scout-team linebacker Buster Davis. According to yet another Free Press article, Felton laid a monumental hit on Davis which relieved Buster of his helmet. This pleased Marinelli, who proceeded to show the tape to his players over and over again. I was not able to locate the footage, but I'd like to imagine it looked something like this.
This is a much healthier example of competition between players. Felton, a fifth-rounder out of Furman (where he scored 63 rushing TDs, btw), and Davis, who spent last season on our practice squad, are both competing for roster spots right now. Having the two of them going out there and trying to prove themselves the right way, is exactly what training camp is all about. Felton was allegedly very humble about the incident, and realized that he was most likely going to get his before it was all said and done. Let's not forget Buster Davis was a stud linebacker at Florida State, and a man who was known to lay some serious lumber. If I was Felton, I would be humble too.
We'll give Buster the benefit of the doubt and say this is just round one. If Jerome Felton's name turns up in the obituaries later this week, I think we'll know why.
Stay tuned to The Ace of Sports for more Lions info as we get closer to the season opener on September 7.