METAIRIE, La. – Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton came through the offensive line untouched, sights set cleanly on quarterback Chase Daniel on Wednesday during New Orleans’ morning minicamp practice.
But Daniel, seeing no outs, all but gave up on the play and held onto the ball.
Lofton, however, expected a pass so he jumped up, coming down close enough to Daniel to brush the quarterback.
Seconds later, the first scrum of minicamp ensued.
“Quarterbacks, they’re a little touchy when it comes to stuff like that,” Lofton said. “I was walking away and he gave me the look and I was like, ‘He better not do that.’ He threw the ball but it bounced and it hit me and I had to have words after that.”
Milliseconds later, Pro Bowl right guard Jahri Evans came to Daniel’s defense and a more than minute-long fight broke out, one that ended with the quarterback back at the huddle and tight end Jimmy Graham on the bottom of the pile.
“Sooner or later, it was like 30 people,” said Daniel, the team’s No. 1 quarterback right now. “I just said, ‘Hey, I’m out of here. I’m going back to the huddle to get ready for the next play.”
The biggest surprise, Daniel said, was that his offensive teammates came to his aid, fighting for their quarterback
Evans, the 6-foot-4, 318-pound guard, said Daniel shouldn’t have been surprised.
“Chase knows we got his back,” he said. “That’s just how it is. We expect the other guys to it for (Sean) Canfield and that’s just how it has always been.”
But for Lofton and Daniel, this wasn’t their first meeting.
Daniel said Lofton hit him as hard as he was ever hit in college during the 2007 Big XII championship game (fast forward to the 3:15 mark for the hit).
Both players remember the play well, though Lofton may remember it better than Daniel.
“I remember everything about that play,” Lofton said. “I even got a picture. It’s at my house.”
Missouri called for a spread option, Daniel said, and Lofton, who was playing for Oklahoma, said the Sooners had it scouted well.
Daniel held onto the ball instead of pitching it to the running back and Lofton made him pay a heavy toll.
“As soon as he turned it up, I was right there,” Lofton said. “I mean, scot free, dead speed and I gave it to him.”
As for Wednesday’s fracas, all involved said it was a good thing, hinting that the spirit shown and the camaraderie displayed will go further than anything else that happened on the play.
“I think what it was is just showing some intensity in camp,” Daniel said. “It’s good. We don’t want to have brawls like that every single day but it shows guys are enthused and into it.”