NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt and Titans coach Jeff Fisher may have hit on the way to eliminate brawls when opposing NFL teams practice together in the preseason.
Just play the game first, then practice instead of the other way around.
The teams practiced together Wednesday afternoon less than 48 hours after the Titans beat Arizona 24-10 on Monday night. Both coaches talked before practice about not expecting any fights or crushing hits. With players on both teams practicing with some tired legs, no one went brawling.
They wrapped up after about 95 minutes with Titans and Cardinals shaking hands and going their separate ways.
"We were just curious about how it was going to be, and it turns out it was fantastic," Whisenhunt said. "Good work against a good team. I think we got a lot out of it. I told our team at the end we got better today. That's really all you can ask for ... We're very excited and grateful to coach Fisher and the Titans' organization for letting us work with them today."
This session came about because the Cardinals (1-1) wanted to avoid the long flight home before flying to Chicago for their third preseason game with the Bears on Saturday night. The Titans didn't mind the change-up themselves before breaking training camp Thursday and their next preseason game at Carolina on Saturday night.
Fisher said they got exactly what they wanted out of the session.
"We got a lot of things accomplished, nobody got hurt, and now we can focus on Carolina and they can focus on Chicago," Fisher said.
There were some hard hits and collisions from plays. Titans defensive tackle Jovan Haye swung his arm at Arizona center David Moosman during a drill with the defense individually pass rushing the offensive line. Titans safety Michael Griffin got physical with Arizona receiver Darren Mougey, jumping his route and picking off a pass from Max Hall.
Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart likely got the worst with his top two receivers — Larry Fitzgerald (right knee) and Early Doucet (abdominal strain) — still sidelined by injuries.
During a 7 on 7 passing drill, Titans rookie Alterraun Verner intercepted a pass from Leinart intended for Steve Breaston, linebacker Will Witherspoon got a pick when Leinart's pass went off tight end Jim Dray's hands and Verner may have had the best play of the day, stripping the ball away from Mike Jones after a catch for the turnover.
Leinart said the work was good for the Cardinals.
"It's difficult because it's going against another team. It was a totally different feel. The same periods and the same stuff like that, but it's nice to go against another team. You see different looks, different coverages. They're not sitting on a lot of our stuff because they don't know what we're running," he said.
"It's more like a game-type thing. It was good. It was competition, and it was intense. It wasn't just a walkaround. I think both teams went really hard."
Witherspoon, a veteran going into his ninth NFL season and with his fourth team, said he was probably a little surprised that no fights broke out. But he said this session followed a game, something he had never seen before.
"This is typically the day after a game, you want to rest your body. You're probably still feeling a little of the effects of the game," he said. "It is actually very strange. You play a team, and you're coming right back up against them. Again, it's a little awkward."
Titans fullback Ahmard Hall echoed the consensus that the practice offered just good work.
"For the most part, we didn't have any drama, and we didn't need it. Tomorrow's our last day of camp. We're trying to finish up camp and roll into the season," he said.
NOTES: Arizona LB Will Davis got banged on the knee, the same knee he has had a bone bruise in. Whisenhunt said he expects him to practice Thursday when the Cardinals work at Vanderbilt University on their own. ... Titans top draft pick Derrick Morgan took part in his individual work since Aug. 1, the day after he signed his contract. He had been limited by a strained left calf. ... Fitzgerald and Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, who's been sidelined by a groin injury, talked together for a couple minutes before the Cardinals loaded up on buses for the return trip to their hotel.