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'Tempers flare' at Rams camp; Todd Gurley involved

IRVINE, Calif. -- Todd Gurley, the man who is not even supposed to be tackled, ended up near the bottom of a pile during Los Angeles Rams practice Wednesday afternoon, the result of a scuffle that also involved fellow running back Benny Cunningham, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree and several other Rams players.

The incident exasperated Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who halted practice and forced his players to assemble in a stretching circle before resuming.

Fisher said he's "not concerned about those things carrying over into the games" and called it "a good learning experience for us."

"They got a little testy," Fisher said, "so I gave them a timeout."

During Tuesday's airing of "Hard Knocks," the HBO series that follows the Rams through training camp, Fisher was seen telling coaches that the defensive players need to treat Gurley "like a freaking quarterback."

"Gurley doesn't need to f---ing be hit in the 9-on-7 [drill], OK?" Fisher said during the show. "I don't want '30' tackled. We need '30.'"

But a few plays after Cunningham and Ogletree got into it Wednesday, Gurley and his No. 30 jersey were right in the middle of a mini-scuffle, at one point falling to the ground with several players hovering over him, then slamming his helmet as he walked away, according to onlookers.

"That was his choice, OK?" Fisher said of Gurley being near the bottom of the pile. "We all need to be smarter than that, but that was his choice. Shows you what kind of competitor he is."

Ogletree is transitioning to middle linebacker this season, and the "Hard Knocks" cameras showed him expressing frustration Saturday because the defense gave up an opening-drive touchdown for a second consecutive game.

Ogletree didn't want to get into what sparked Wednesday's physical exchange.

“It was just competing, man," Ogletree said. "Tempers flare, you know. Things like that are going to happen. [Fisher] cooled us down, everybody got back together. We settled our issues and went on with practice, finished out the day. ... We’re all still brothers and teammates, and we definitely look out for one another. We’re going to put that behind us and keep working."

The Rams play their third and most important preseason game Saturday, when they travel to Denver to face the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos at 6 p.m. PT. Starters will see their most snaps that night, then basically rest up during the fourth preseason game, which takes place Sept. 1. Wednesday represented the last time the Rams would compete against one another in pads before the start of the regular season, which Fisher believes might have heightened the emotion.

Ogletree was asked if fights like these are good or bad.

"It’s kind of both," he said. "It’s a good thing because it definitely brings the energy up; guys are competing a little harder. A bad thing in the sense that you don’t want guys out there fighting because you’re risking injury, somebody getting hurt. Coach did a good job of cooling us off and getting everybody back to our senses."