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Jets: Ikemefuna Enemkpali's punch didn't hurt team unity

Jets outside linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali warms up at

Jets outside linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali warms up at the Jets Atlantic Health Training Center on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 in Florham Park, N.J.. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - With one punch, Ikemefuna Enemkpali touched off a chaotic day at Jets training camp that both raised doubts about the team's unity and confirmed it.

The backup linebacker "sucker-punched" Geno Smith Tuesday morning in the locker room, coach Todd Bowles said. The blow broke Smith's jaw and will leave the Jets without their projected starting quarterback for 6-10 weeks.

Why did it happen?

None of the Jets would say, citing loyalty to Smith and Enemkpali, although Enemkpali was released immediately after the incident. None would shed any light into what triggered the punch.

"I don't want to say [they had] a beef,'' Darrelle Revis said. "It was just a miscommunication between the two of them trying to agree on a certain matter.

"To me, it should have never gotten to a sucker punch or a scuffle or fight or however you want to put it.''

And that's about as specific as anyone would get.

Nick Mangold said he was concerned the team's latest incident would affect public perception. The NFL suspended Sheldon Richardson four games July 2 for violating its substance-abuse policy. The defensive tackle then was charged July 14 with resisting arrest and traffic violations.

"Unfortunately, it puts a perception out there that things are running amok,'' Mangold said, "and, honest to God, it really is an isolated incident.''

As the Jets began their morning walk-through, Smith and Enemkpali were nowhere to be seen. "We don't know what happened,'' Mangold said. "We didn't know at the time that he had as severe injuries as he did.''

They also said they didn't know Enemkpali had been cut. None of the players who spoke after practice questioned that move. Revis said he was not sure how teammates would have reacted if the Jets had kept him.

"I don't know because I've never been in a situation where there's been a locker room fight or scuffle like this,'' he said.

Revis said disputes happen frequently, but that a line must be drawn before a punch is thrown.

"For this to go down . . . it's not good,'' he said, "especially right now in training camp when we're trying to build a team. We're trying to build chemistry. We're trying to build unity.''

And that unity, he and other players said, is not fractured.


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