Houston Texans rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson was kicked out of Monday’s joint practice with the host Green Bay Packers after delivering a pair of violent hits that the opposing players – and even his own coach – found unacceptable.
During a non-tackling portion of practice, Johnson, a second-round pick, first clobbered Packers third-round rookie tight end Jace Sternberger on a crossing route, knocking his helmet off.
Afterwards, Johnson stood over Sternberger, flexing.
Several Green Bay players immediately went after Johnson, and players from both teams converged, though the scrum was broken up before escalating.
Sternberger went inside to be evaluated for a concussion but returned to practice.
Johnson later hit Packers wideout/returner Trevor Davis during a kick-return drill. Davis was injured and did not return, and Johnson was sent packing by head coach Bill O’Brien.
‘That’s between me and Lonnie,’ O’Brien told reporters when asked about Johnson’s departure. ‘It’s not a big deal, it’s just a play that developed over there, and it was time for Lonnie to head to the showers.’
Both teams were in full pads, but players rarely escalate beyond ‘thud’ tackling in practices. Several Packers players said afterward Johnson’s conduct was unacceptable.
Following practice, Johnson posted a picture on Instagram of himself flexing over Sternberger with the caption: ‘Gotta drop on this flexing.’
‘Obviously he’s a rookie and he needs to know you can’t be hitting guys live in practice,’ tight end Jimmy Graham said. ‘That’s absolutely ridiculous. And we’re not going to stand for that here, obviously.
‘This isn’t a game. We’re going to play on Thursday. You can do that then. It’s one of those things, rookie on rookie, but (No.) 32 has to chill out.’
Green Bay wideout Davante Adams called Johnson’s play ‘unnecessary.’
‘Be a coward when you do stuff like that in practice, it’s not a good look,’ Adams said. ‘We take care of each other up here. I don’t know how they practice, I don’t know what they do over there, but there’s consequences for stuff like that.’
Sternberger did not sound as bothered, saying, ‘I still think it’s football,’ but he added he didn’t know Johnson had stood over him celebrating after the hit.
Johnson did not meet the media Monday but tweeted after practice, ‘Not trying to hurt nobody just wanna be great.’
The sides have another joint session on Tuesday, leading up to Thursday’s preseason opener at Lambeau Field.
The #Packers and #Texans got into joint practice fight, but it got broken up pretty quickly.
It was rookie on rookie crime, Packers TE Jace Sternberger was hit hard by Texans CB Lonnie Johnson and then flexed over him.pic.twitter.com/iIXxfBzWzY