If things like this keep happening, I'm going to start believing all the people who tell me that football is a violent game. When the Detroit Lions took the field for their OTAs on Monday, receiver Titus Young was conspicuous by his absence. Turned out that Young, the second-year player taken in the second round out of Boise State, had a "confrontation" with veteran safety Louis Delmas during last week's voluntary workouts. What kind of "confrontation"? According to Anwar Richardson of MLive.com, Young punched Delmas when the safety wasn't looking after the two players got into a little barking.
After that fracas, the Lions punished Young by barring him from OTAs and minicamps until further notice. Delmas was on hand Monday and practiced, which tells you who the coaches are most likely blaming in this case.
"This is the voluntary part of our offseason program," head coach Jim Schwartz said after practice. "There is no need to comment. It sort of entails that it is not voluntary. I'm not going to comment on any other thing."
As our buddy Ian Rapoport of NFL.com pointed out, it's a good thing teammates pulled Young away, because Delmas has a well-deserved reputation as a guy you wouldn't want to mess with.
Young caught 48 passes for 607 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie, and that touchdown total was the fourth-highest in franchise history for any first-year player. But concerns about Young's attitude have dogged him since his college days. As the Associated Press put it in 2010,"Titus Young was once so deep in [Boise State head coach] Chris Petersen's doghouse that just seeing the football field again was going to be an accomplishment."
He was benched for most of the 2008 season, but fought his way back (in a figurative sense) and excelled through his last two collegiate seasons. It's clear that Young has the talent to make the NFL work for him, but will he learn that you have to keep your head straight?
In a game against the New Orleans Saints last season, he incurred a personal foul penalty that had teammate Dominic Raiola getting in the rookie's face and telling him to grow up -- with several stronger words mixed in.
"I'll take a setback as a setup for a comeback," Young told the AP in 2010. "I learned from my mistakes and it's unfortunate I wasn't on the field for that time, but I still have the opportunity to play right now and I'm looking forward to the future. That was the past, just keep on building, keep on playing, keep on practicing."
Apparently, it's in the present, too. When we spoke with Young in March of 2011, he came across as a good kid who was very upbeat and intensely positive about his NFL future. Hopefully, this is either an isolated incident, or something that he can learn from. At the very least, Young should talk to his receiver buddies around the NFL. They would most likely tell him that Delmas is not the guy you want to sucker-punch.
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