There are signs of trouble up ahead for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Riley Cooper laughed it off.
Cary Williams refused to comment Thursday, and Chip Kelly sidestepped lines of questioning Friday about the altercation between two of the more personalities on the roster.
Thursday Cooper and Williams were entangled in a heated exchange as practice began with the fallout potentially having far reaching tentacles throughout the locker room.
“They’ve been normal,” Cooper said of his teammates Thursday after practice at the Novacare Complex. “It’s been great. Everything’s completely 100 percent normal. We’re all real close. Everybody. Cary included. He’s my boy.”
To Cooper’s credit, addressing the issue head on was likely the most prudent way of handling Thursday’s bugaboo.
Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jeff McLane reports that Williams said “I’m not a n- you [mess] with” to Cooper during yesterday’s altercation.
Clearly there are still open wounds in a locker room that was asked initially to heal and move past Cooper’s actions after the team fined him an undisclosed amount of money and sent the University of Florida product away for three days of sensitivity training.
Williams refused to comment after yesterday’s practice which served no purpose but to fan an already raging flame in the court of public opinion.
Meanwhile, on Friday Kelly refused to attribute the confrontation as anything more than two football players going at it during practice.
“We went right back to team period after that incident,” Kelly explained. “In fact Mike [Vick] threw to Cooper on the first play and it was Cary lined up against him. There’s no fallout.”
Sure, dust-ups happen on practice fields across the NFL. They happen in the dog days of August when training camp is in full swing. Not in the final days leading up to a game.
However, in a city such as Philadelphia where every move is scrutinized, especially those involving a player of Cooper’s self created stature and Williams who has been a walking controversy since joining the team, these incidents carry much more weight.
The team has allowed them to.
Because of the leniency the team offered Cooper in the immediate aftermath of the incident and the hurt feelings that have festered in the locker room since, this is bound to be a recurring storyline throughout the season.
Kelly can sidestep the questions all he likes, but there is no easy way of handling Cooper now that he is entrenched as the team’s number two receiver. Just as Williams’ actions seem nonpunishable at this juncture.
For a team and a coach looking to lay the foundation this season, it doesn’t appear that controversy is going to be very far away at any turn, as long as the feelings about Cooper are always lurking just under the surface.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.