ASHBURN, Va. - If only the Washington Redskins could've shown this much emotion last weekend.
After a listless performance in a 20-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, Washington opened the last week of training camp yesterday at Redskins Park with tempers flaring.
Running back Chad Morton and linebacker Jessie Armstead tangled twice, linebacker LaVar Arrington went after wide receiver Rod Gardner, and defensive coordinator George Edwards berated linebacker Jeremiah Trotter for a hard hit on running back Sultan McCullough.
Afterward, coach Steve Spurrier said the team would not encourage any future incidents, but several players said they needed a spark after losing to Carolina.
"The other night, we didn't perform well," offensive tackle Chris Samuels said. "We had to tighten up in practice, and you saw that intensity in the guys today."
"We picked up the pace," Arrington said. "It was a beautiful practice. I always love a practice like that."
Last season, tension was nonexistent as Washington scored 38 points in its first exhibition game en route to a franchise-record 164 points in five preseason contests.
But with only 39 yards of total offense from their starting unit, nearly as many penalties (12) as first downs (13), and four turnovers against the Panthers, the Redskins looked dazed, helpless and overmatched.
So with Spurrier insisting that the team needed to work harder in practice, the hits came.
On a seven-on-seven drill, quarterback Patrick Ramsey dumped off a pass to Morton, who was grabbed from behind by Armstead. Armstead gave Morton a little push and Morton retaliated with a two-handed shove to Armstead's upper chest.
A scuffle involving at least a dozen players ensued, and Arrington pursued Gardner, who had attempted to pull Arrington off the pile of bodies.
On the very next play, Trotter's hit on McCullough drew Edwards' attention. The coordinator ordered Trotter off the field for the next play.
Morton and Armstead tangled again later during practice, but teammates and coaches separated the two.
While Spurrier disapproved of the fisticuffs, he said he hoped his players learned that they would have to toughen up as the New England Patriots prepare to visit FedEx Field on Saturday.
"We're disappointed, and we were embarrassed by the effort level we played with the other night," said Spurrier, who last endured a shutout loss on Oct. 3, 1987, when he was at Duke. " ... Obviously, the Carolina guys were a lot better prepared than we were because they had a little extra hop in their step, and they hit us harder than we hit them. Hopefully, that's not going to happen this Saturday night."
In the midst of a defensive debacle in which former Redskin and current Carolina running back Stephen Davis shredded the starting unit for 74 yards on seven carries, Washington linebacker Antonio Pierce sparkled.
Pierce, who is one of seven linebackers trying to earn a spot behind Armstead, Arrington and Trotter, recorded four tackles and forced two fumbles in the first half.
NOTES: Running back Kenny Watson (sore knee) and offensive guard Dave Fiore (bruised shoulder) did not practice yesterday. Center Larry Moore sprained his left knee during practice, and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam this morning to determine the severity of the injury. Running back Ladell Betts (sprained elbow) returned to practice, while wide receiver Scott Cloman (sprained shoulder) also practiced. ... In an effort to fortify their interior run defense, the Redskins signed free-agent defensive tackle James Cannida. Defensive lineman Jace Sayler was cut to make room for Cannida. Also, the team released kicker Matt Simonton and re-signed fullback Thad Buttone.