Giants linebacker Cam Brown (47) and guard Jon Feliciano (76)...

Giants linebacker Cam Brown (47) and guard Jon Feliciano (76) during a fight at training camp in East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, August 8, 2022. Credit: Noah K. Murray

The surest sign that the Giants are ready for their Thursday night preseason opener in New England may be that they became sick of playing against themselves on Monday.

As the second straight day of fully padded work played out in the swampy weather and hits between teammates became more and more ferocious, morphing from playful thumps to angry body slams, there seemed little doubt a brawl was imminent.

“Something was bound to happen,” safety Julian Love said.

It did. A sideline-clearing melee interrupted Monday’s Giants practice, one so predictable that it might as well have been written into the script for the day’s practice: stretch, installation, team drills, fight, team drills, wrap it up.

What made this dust-up stand out was that it eventually involved a member of the offensive coaching staff shoving a player, a move some defensive players said they thought was unprofessional and might need to be addressed by the players’ union. After linebacker Cam Brown roughly dragged center Jon Feliciano from the heap of bodies brawling in the middle of the field, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson shoved Brown, who took a swing at the coach but did not appear to connect. They then went at each other and had to be separated. Brown and Feliciano exchanged wild punches to punctuate the fight.

Any discipline for Johnson almost certainly will come from the Giants and not from the league, a source told Newsday. Coach Brian Daboll would issue any such reprimand, but he was not available to speak to the media after practice.

Tensions started rising when Saquon Barkley lowered his shoulder into Aaron Robinson and sent the cornerback flying. On the next play, Robinson made a physical hit on receiver Alex Bachman near the defensive sideline that wound up incomplete. The play after that was a handoff to Antonio Williams, who was stopped behind the line before linebacker Tae Crowder wrapped him and flung him to the turf.

The play after that? It wasn’t really a play. Just like when the puck is dropped in a hockey game and the players immediately drop their gloves and begin fighting, the football was snapped to Daniel Jones, and it was as if deleted scenes from “The Longest Yard” were being shown. Feliciano made a straight run for Crowder and everyone else piled on.

“I don’t think any of us have crossed a line,” Love said. “It gets intense and things happen and we’re going to respond. They can expect that, we can expect that from them. We don’t take it personally or at heart. Everybody is in there in the locker room right now just going on as normal. You defend your guys, that’s what it comes down to.”

Daboll gathered the team for a lecture and the Giants then returned to the workout, which went on without incident.

Had Daboll wanted to stop the fight from occurring, he could have brought the team together after the Barkley hit or Crowder tackle. Instead, he watched it erupt . He had challenged the team to be more physical on Sunday, but he had to realize putting them back in pads for more contact Monday was a recipe for such shenanigans.

As for the hit by Barkley that sparked the incident, it was an unnecessary wallop, given the agreed-upon tempo at which the players were practicing.

Defensive players generally do not tackle offensive ballcarriers but instead bump into them — they call it thud — so when Barkley squared up on Robinson, it was unexpected.


Said Love: “I’m excited to see him run that hard. It’s something we want. He’s Saquon Barkley . . . That’s the energy we want to see from him.” But he quickly added: “I know we won’t get caught sleeping again.”

The fans who were in the stands were entertained. As Daboll defused the situation, they began the loudest “Let’s go Giants!” chant of the summer.

Linebacker Jihad Ward jokingly tried to tell reporters he didn’t see the action. When he finally admitted he had witnessed the fight, he put his own spin on it, suggesting the participants were simply hugging each other rather than hitting one another.

“I just saw a lot of people coming together as one, a lot of love,” he said with a smirk. “A lot of wild love.”

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