By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — The pregame warmups on a football field are typically an uneventful scene. Kickers kick some footballs, while players run through drills with their positions, and then teams run some offense and defense before retreating to their locker rooms.
But there was a disturbance on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, when Bills safety Robert Blanton shoved quarterback Jacoby Brissett as the rookie jogged up the field with receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who shoved back to protect his quarterback. Eventually, coaches intervened, with Patriots receivers coach Chad O’Shea getting a shove to the head from Bills safety Aaron Williams.
The scuffle drew plenty of attention, as it looked to be an unprovoked shove of the only healthy quarterback on the Patriots’ active roster.
After the game, Nickell Robey-Coleman said that Brissett and Mitchell had run directly through the Bills’ defensive back drills twice. The first time resulted in a verbal warning. The second time, things got physical.
“Two players came in our DB drills and interrupted our DB drills. That was about it. The coaches was mouthing off a little bit, but that was about it,” Robey-Coleman said in the victorious Bills locker room. “Brissett kept running, but the other guy stayed and he kept mouthing off and stuff, and that’s when the coaches jumped in and our coaches tried to break it up.”
Robey-Coleman insisted that the Bills defensive backs had already told Brissett and Mitchell to not run through their drills prior to the incident.
“The first time they ran through, we was just like, ‘Hey man, run on the sideline inside the white, just to show that like, you’re jogging.’ But like they was on the infield inside the green and they was really running through our drills,” he said. “They ran through it twice. The first time we told them, ‘Run on the white.'”
While some may have seen the showdown as an attempt by the Bills to get inside the head of the rookie quarterback, Robey-Coleman believed it was Brissett and Mitchell who were playing mind games with the Bills.
“We thought it was the other way around,” he said. “We thought they was just trying to get in our heads, because they never did that to us before — not since I was here, they never did that to us before, so I felt like they was just trying to get in our heads and I guess send a message like this is the type of day we’re going to have today.”
Robey-Coleman was asked if perhaps the rookie status of both Brissett and Mitchell might have played a role in the course of their pregame jog.
“Oh, I didn’t know he was a rookie. I didn’t know Mitchell was a rookie. I didn’t know him like that,” Robey-Coleman said. “So, probably was a rookie mistake. I don’t know.”
Mitchell ended up getting just 20 offensive snaps for the Patriots in the 16-0 loss to the Bills, while Brissett completed 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns.
The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reported Monday that the league will review the incident.
After the game, the Patriots offered no commentary on the pregame ordeal, with Brissett claiming he didn’t even remember it and it didn’t bother him. Meanwhile Bills coach Rex Ryan said it was a non-event.
“I never thought it was that big a deal,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t like anyone was throwing down anybody. It was just some words. A lot of talk out there.”