FOXBORO — Patriots center David Andrews and defensive tackle Christian Barmore went head-to-head in the first fight of training camp Tuesday, wrestling to the ground after a play that pitted the starting offense versus the starting defense in an 11-on-11 period. Players from both sidelines emptied onto the field to break up the fight, including quarterback Mac Jones, who was immediately grabbed and stopped by veteran wideout Nelson Agholor.

“I tried to get in there a little bit,” Jones said after practice. “It’s two guys I have a lot of respect for. At this point in camp, that’s gonna happen. I just want to make sure I can talk to both of those guys and try to stop it. At the end of the day, we’re teammates and we all know that.”

Barmore was kicked out of practice, while Andrews walked off slowly, ran hills and returned to watch the rest of practice from a distance. The Pats’ longtime captain made an impassioned speech to his offense after an atrocious practice Monday and seemed eager to set a tone Tuesday. Andrews also addressed the offense after Tuesday’s practice, which featured the Patriots’ best run-blocking of camp.

Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux wasn’t surprised to see two teammates scrap this late into camp. Minutes before Andrews and Barmore hit the turf, a small skirmish broke out during a competitive drill between offensive and defensive linemen.

“I mean, it’s football. Things happen. Guys get heated, we’ve been out here practicing for a long time,” Godchaux said. “I wouldn’t make that nothing. It’s just football.”

Patriots safety Devin McCourty, another captain, had a slightly different take. He noted the team’s first preseason game is later this week, a time when the offense and defense will no longer be competing against one another, but the visiting Giants. Fighting at this stage could risk injury, something the Patriots don’t need.


“It’s a little late for all of that,” McCourty said before later adding: “We’re playing a game in two days, and that’s what it’s about.”

McCOURTY HAS SEEN several former Patriots assistant coaches become head coaches in his time in New England. He’ll see new Giants Coach Brian Daboll, who did two tours of duty under Coach Bill Belichick on Thursday night when New York visits for both teams’ preseason opener.

In two weeks longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will lead the Raiders against the Patriots. After practice Tuesday, McCourty was asked who might be next. Which assistant coach that he’s been around was most ready for the big chair?

McCourty didn’t hesitate and named linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, who he played with early in his career and has seen develop as an assistant coach.

“When I came here I thought Mayo was in year eight or 10 because every time I had a question on anything I would go to Mayo,” McCourty said. “When I got here, Matty P (Patricia) would tell you, ‘you don’t make a check unless Jerod makes a check.’”

Mayo, who played for the Patriots from 2008-15, is just 36 years old. He was actually in year three when McCourty was a rookie, but he was a leader from the early days of his career.
Mayo interviewed with both the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos for their open positions during the offseason.

McCourty thought Mayo’s ability to earn trust and build relationships would be a significant asset.

“What he used to do as a player, not only on the field, but off the field. The relationships he built. He’s a true leader of men. That’s ultimately what it comes down to,” McCourty said. “What he’s meant for me as a football player and as a man, I think someday, he’ll definitely be wearing that hat.”

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