Packers practice heated, even with coaches

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On most days when the Green Bay Packers assistant coaches are available to reporters, they line up in the hallway outside the locker room.

On Wednesday, however, the defensive coaches were sent to the media auditorium and the offensive coaches held court in an auxiliary interview room across the hall.

And no, it wasn't just to keep offensive line coach James Campen and linebackers coach Winston Moss separated.

That, however, was necessary at practice a few hours earlier. That the two-hour and four-minute session featured a handful of fights was not as unusual as the fact that the two assistant coaches engaged in a very public shouting match on Ray Nitschke Field. That's not something that happens every day, even during the heat of training camp.

It happened during the most physical drill of camp, the combo running drill -- a rock 'em-sock 'em contest of strength to either run the ball or stop it. Only minutes earlier in the same drill, linebacker Jamari Lattimore and left guard Josh Sitton got into a fight that blew up into the largest scrum of camp.

A few plays later, the Campen-Moss blowup occurred.

It was never much more than a war of words, but it left even the players surprised to see it.

"That's the first time I've seen that since I've been here," said guard T.J. Lang, who is in his sixth season.

No one was quite sure what started it, but the combatants offered their versions.

"I was admiring Winston's beard," Campen said. "He's got a new beard this year, does he not? Yeah, It's an impressive beard. I wanted to get a closer look and took the opportunity to do that. Hey, it's an intense practice. Everything is fine. It's no big deal. I like his beard. It's nice."

Campen said Moss then retorted with a comment about his weight.

"He talked about my beard; I talked about how small his T-shirt was," Moss said. "It kind of escalated from there. I don't know what happened. It was high energy, high spirit. It was fun more than anything.

"You don't see too many coaches get after it. But to me, it was just fun. I hope he's fine. I hope he didn't take it personal."

No one was surprised that it was a spirited practice. In the morning meetings, the players could sense it was coming. To hear Lang tell it, the offense got the better of the defense in their previous full-pads practice on Monday, so he figured the defense would come back with some fight.

"We knew it was going to happen," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "They juiced us up in the meeting room."

It was almost exactly what coach Mike McCarthy wanted. He called it "the practice we needed" but added that "emotion definitely got in the way in a few instances today and that's something we've got to learn from."

There were several other skirmishes during the practice, including one between Lang and cornerback Jarrett Bush, and even a few punches thrown.

"Right now, it's offense versus defense," Sitton said. "I'm out there protecting my offensive guys. We always talk, 'Don't punch anybody.' I don't think that happened today. I think there was definitely a few punches thrown. They tell us to just be smart and protect your teammates."

When asked whether he was smart, Sitton said: "I might have been stupid today."