FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has said he hopes to limit rotation this year, with the idea of trying to keep the same players next to each other as much as possible. After watching what unfolded in Tuesday's joint practice with the Chicago Bears, the obvious question is, "Can Scarnecchia rely on incumbent starting center Bryan Stork?"
Stork got thrown out of practice for losing his temper and wildly swinging punches at Bears linebacker John Timu during an 11-on-11 drill. Timu might have given Stork a bit of extracurricular activity as a play was ending, but Stork's reaction was way over the top -- putting both hands into Timu's breastplate and pushing him with force before swinging his arms at Timu.
He didn't connect, and to Timu's credit he put both of his hands into the air as if to say, "I'm not engaging" as Bears head coach John Fox came off the sideline quickly to extinguish the situation from escalating.
Bill Belichick's longstanding rule is that if a player fights in practice, he is ejected, as that is what would happen in a game. Stork obviously knew this as he quickly jogged off the field en route to the locker room as practice continued.
On a day like this, Stork's actions simply gave other centers -- David Andrews, Josh Kline and Ted Karras -- more work. But in a game, when the Patriots often only carry two backups on the 46-man game-day roster, Stork's actions could have badly hurt the team.
This isn't the first time Stork has crossed that line in practice, but it's the first time he has been coached by Scarnecchia, who returns in 2016 after a two-year retirement.
Stork entered training camp in an open competition for the job with Andrews; they had rotated repetitions with the first-unit in the spring and through the first three days of camp. But when Stork sustained a reported concussion on the third day of camp and then missed a week, Andrews stepped in and has mostly had the upper hand since.
In attempting to close that gap, Stork didn't do himself any favors with Scarnecchia on Tuesday.