About the only major problem in the two days of the joint practices between the Bengals and the Falcons occurred Monday when Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict jumped on Falcons running back Steven Jackson’s back.
“I told him if I was a back and he did to me what he did to Steven, I would have hit him with a two-by-four,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said Tuesday. “Steven should have got him in his sleep last night. He was wrong.”
Burfict had a standout rookie season after not being drafted in 2012. He wasn’t drafted in part because of character concerns.
Lewis doesn’t believe that Burfict’s background played a part in the aggressive move where both coaches had issued “no fights” edicts.
“That’s what he’s got to understand, don’t cross the line and be wrong,” Lewis said. “He’s a good player. He doesn’t have to do anything out of character or out of line in order to make people notice him.”
Burfict slipped a block and tagged Jackson down before jumping on his back. Lewis wanted him to be satisfied with making a good play.
“He plays very aggressive, but he was wrong for getting into a little squabble with Steven,” Lewis said. “He made a hell of play coming off the block, and he jumped on Steven’s back. That’s not what we are doing at this point. We wouldn’t allow him to jump on (Giovani Bernard’s) back or (BenJarvus Green-Ellis’) back, so don’t jump on their guy’s back.”
More scrimmages: This is the sixth time the Falcons have held joint training-camp practices in coach Mike Smith’s time with the team.
Lewis believes the Bengals will do more in the future, perhaps with Indianapolis or St. Louis.
“You’re not going to do it with division clubs, but I would feel confident with anybody else,” Lewis said. “I know that (Colts coach) Chuck (Pagano) and I have talked about doing it with in Indy. … It’s something that I think benefits everyone and maybe we can do it with St. Louis and meet in Terre Haute (Indiana) or something.”
Rookie corner: Lewis and Smith wanted to make sure their top rookie draft picks received a lot of exposure in the practices leading to the exhibition opener, which begins at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
“(Tight end) Tyler Eifert has met every one of our expectations on how he would be as a young player,” Lewis said. “We’re just excited to have him and to continually develop his tools.”
He believes Eifert, the team’s first-round pick, and Bernard can earn roles in the offense.
Defensive end Margus Hunt, the team’s other second-round pick, is a work in progress.
“It was a good experience for him to go against different people, watch others and see how it works,” Lewis said. “I think his track background allows him to take a principle or technique or a tweak and go out and execute it very well.”
The Falcons’ top rookies, cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (first round, 22nd) and Robert Alford (second round, 60th overall), are expected to contribute immediately.
Gresham’s ascending: While the Bengals drafted Eifert, they still want Jermaine Gresham to be their top tight end.
“So much has been written about Tyler, but our bread and butter has to be Jermaine,” Lewis said. “Jermaine has to go and make things happen. He (has to) ascend to be the leader and the great player that we feel he is.”
Injury reports: In addition to Mike Johnson’s apparent leg injury suffered in Tuesday’s practice, Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, the team’s defensive signal-caller and second-leading tackler last season, suffered an open dislocated finger on his left hand and will be out indefinitely.
“We are going to keep him out, and the time frame is going to be based on how quick the wound heals,” Smith said. “It’s a matter of the wound healing.”
The wound will get stitches, and the Falcons will try to guard against infection. The team was elated that Weatherspoon did not break any bones in the hand.
Wide receiver Julio Jones, who was limited in practices, will not play in the exhibition opener.
“Julio Jones has had tightness in his hamstrings,” Smith said. “It is a precautionary move.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.