College rivalry boils over for Saints

METAIRIE, LA. -- The new offseason rules in the NFL limit conduct, but they don’t limit emotions.

Toward the end of Wednesday morning’s minicamp session, the New Orleans Saints suddenly went from a nice quiet practice to having nearly a full-fledged team skirmish.

It started when linebacker Curtis Lofton said he “grazed’’ quarterback Chase Daniel on a pass rush. Someone yelled, “Stay away from the quarterback’’ and the next thing you saw was Daniel firing the ball at Lofton’s feet – and coming up a little short. But that prompted players from the offense and defense to do some pushing and shoving for about the next 90 seconds or so.

That kind of thing isn’t an uncommon sight at an NFL minicamp or training camp. Coaches frequently blame the heat (and it was plenty hot Wednesday morning) and the Saints were able to laugh off the incident afterwards.

“I think we’ll back up and take them to the petting zoo or something like that tomorrow,’’ assistant head coach Joe Vitt said after practice.

In the locker room, Lofton and Daniel were quick to say they had no problem with each other. But it’s obvious they have a little history.

“Oh, just a little old Big 12 heated little something,’’ Lofton said with a laugh.

Daniel, who played at Missouri, complimented Lofton and said the linebacker, who played at Oklahoma, delivered the hardest hit he ever took in college.

When told of that, Lofton did take long to recall the details – in great detail – of the play that came in the 2007 Big 12 Championship Game.

“He was running the option and we told the defensive end to take the pitch, so he thought he was free,’’ Lofton said. “I came and put one on him pretty good."

Lofton didn’t stop there.

“We won,’’ Lofton said. “It wasn’t even competition. I actually picked him off in that game too, if I recall correct.’’

Lofton and Daniel were both laughing the whole time they talked.

But the Saints are going to cool things off a bit this afternoon. Vitt said the afternoon session will be held in the team’s indoor facility. Vitt said the decision was made because it looks like inclement weather could be coming this afternoon.