Stamps' fight club

There were a couple of minor melees at Stampeders training camp yesterday, including this one...

There were a couple of minor melees at Stampeders training camp yesterday, including this one between the team's receivers and defensive backs. Later, linemen Miguel Robade and Derek Armstrong took a few swings at each other -- in full equipment. (Calgary Sun/Stuart Dryden)

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

Blame it on the intensity of positional battles, or on a solid two weeks of seeing the same opponents in practice.

Blood finally boiled over in Calgary Stampeders training camp yesterday but linebacker John Grace was there to play peacekeeper.

At least, that's what Grace called it when he stepped into a shoving match between receiver Markus Howell and safety Trey Young near the end of practice.

Grace was the centrepiece of what became a minor melee between the always talkative receivers and the first-team linebackers and defensive backs.

"It wasn't really a melee," said Grace, the reigning CFL defensive player of the year.

"Nobody grabbed each other. They were just looking cross at each other.

"Nobody threw punches. It was just a huge pushing match where guys were jostling for position."

Tempers eventually cooled and the drills went back to normal.

However, minutes later on the other end of the field, defensive lineman Miguel Robede and offensive lineman Derek Armstrong started swinging at each other in one-on-ones.

A few harmless punches bounced off the helmets before the two separated.

Then the groups laughed, hugged and shook hands in a huge showing of solidarity.

"The linemen were swinging at each other and that's silly," said head coach Tom Higgins.

"It's somewhat silly to scrap with football equipment on. They only tire themselves out.

"It's probably indicative that it's the last day of training camp -- we're breaking camp today. So now we can get into a normal routine."

Grace actually considered the whole situation to be a positive because both the defensive and offensive players ran to protect their teammates.

Grace said nothing helps the bonding process like a bit of an argument to release frustrations and move forward.

"That's a good sign when you see all the guys come together because they genuinely care about each other," Grace said.

"Nobody wants to be the guy who lets the whole team down.

"If they care what happens on the field, they will care when it's time to make a play."

Since Higgins took over as coach before last season, player fights have been few and far between.

A bit of an argument erupted on the first day of training camp but nothing really escalated.

As players have been released and positional battles have become more heightened, the intensity has risen accordingly.

"When you have a good team, you will have stuff like that," Grace said.

"We don't have any frustrations.

"It was nothing but a football shoving match."


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