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Pittsburgh Steelers Cameron Heyward on joint practices: ‘Guys do things they would never do in a game’

Jason Burgos
pittsburgh steelers, cameron heyward
Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers star Cameron Heyward claims that the joint practices NFL teams hold during training camp each year are actually far more dangerous than fans even realize.

NFL teams do a lot to try and keep players healthy during the summer so star athletes can reach the regular season and deliver the performance goods when it matters most. There are fewer preseason games than in years past and players participate in much fewer practices in pads during spring voluntary camps because of this. Even healthy players will sit out preseason games just to avoid the outside possibility of an injury that could knock them out of an all-important regular season game.

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However, joint practices between organizations are a common occurrence in the week leading up to preseason matchups. They have also been the source of some wild bruhahas in training camps. Two weeks ago, a fan was hurt when a brawl between Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots players spilled into the stands. However, the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals topped that on Thursday with a melee that made headlines nationally and saw superstar Aaron Donald at one point double-fisting and swinging a pair of helmets at Bengals players.

Pittsburgh Steelers Cameron Heyward explains how dangerous joint practices are

pittsburgh steelers, cameron heyward
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) is knocked to the ground as a third scuffle escalates into a brawl during a joint preseason camp practice between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. Practice was ended early after a third scuffle turned into a broader fight between players on both teams.Cincinnati Bengals Los Angeles Rams Training Camp

The massive fight has led many fans to wonder aloud — or on Twitter — are joint practices even worth it with so many fights that seem to happen at them. On Thursday, Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward responded to one person on the social media site, explaining how these practices are like the wild west of the NFL and are probably more dangerous than anything seen in the preseason or regular season action.

“In theory, it sounds cool to see your team compete in a practice setting but it’s basically a 2 and half-hour wrestling match with no rules or technique which puts everyone on edge. Guys do things they would never do in a game that could lead to injury. Players fight for their team.”

Cameron Heyward on NFL joint practices

The NFL does not directly oversee joint practices and it is an arrangement worked out between the teams involved. This means it is far more difficult to levy punishments for poor behavior, and practices go down with the hope all players act honorably as they take place. Obviously, some players are not interested in the honor code of joint practices.

Earlier this month, Carolina Panthers safety Kenny Robinson gave Patriots talent Kristian Wilkerson a concussion during a joint practice hit.