FOXBOROUGH — Tempers boiled over once again on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, and for the second straight day, a Patriot was ejected from the joint practice session with the Bears.
New England center Bryan Stork, no stranger to ornery confrontations, got the boot Tuesday after a post-whistle shoving match with Chicago linebacker John Timu. The Bears have been chippy throughout the two practices and apparently Stork reached his boiling point.
It’s unclear what started the fracas, but Stork landed a violent two-handed shove to Timu’s chest and then started swinging wildly as the linebacker backpedaled and raised his hands as if to say, “No mas.’’
Stork quickly was restrained by teammates then was banished to the showers. It was the second time he has been sent off the field early this offseason; he had a dust-up with rookie teammate Woodrow Hamilton during an OTA.
Stork’s ejection came a day after cornerback Malcolm Butler was sent to the locker room after a dust-up with Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery.
The Stork-Timu confrontation was one of a number of heated moments during the hot and muggy practice.
Julian Edelman, making his first appearance in 11-on-11 drills this summer, was drilled to the turf by Bears safety Harold Jones-Quartey after making a catch on a throw from Jimmy Garoppolo. Edelman and fellow receiver Aaron Dobson went after Jones-Quartey, but things broke up quickly. Jones-Quartey was removed from practice by Chicago coach John Fox.
Martellus Bennett and Lamarr Houston, who got into it Monday, again went at each other, with Bennett’s helmet getting ripped off.
Additionally, Devin McCourty’s helmet was knocked off by Joshua Bellamy during a special teams drill. Patrick Chung intervened before McCourty and Bellamy engaged further.
The final questionable incident was when Bears linebacker Sam Acho went high on Clay Harbor after the tight end caught a pass from Tom Brady. Harbor’s body twisted awkwardly on the play, and he was tended to by a trainer. He was walking fine after practice.
Fox, who sought out Bill Belichick after several of the dust-ups, downplayed the incidents.
“Those weren’t fights, those were just pushing matches,’’ said Fox.
Asked if he was concerned that the hostilities could spill over into Thursday night’s game (the teams will hold a walkthrough Wednesday) the Bears coach said no.
“I don’t anticipate that,” he said. “I think [the Patriots] played a very clean game in their opener, so did we, that’s the key thing. I don’t think it’s anything to raise any eyebrows about.’’
Patriots receiver Chris Hogan chalked it up to the nature of the game.
“I think it’s just competitiveness,’’ he said. “When guys are out here competing, tempers flare a little bit, but that’s football. I think you’ll get thrown out of the game for that kind of stuff, so I don’t think anyone’s trying to take that fine. So I think we’ll be able to keep competing during the game.’’
Pass for Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski, who left midway through Monday’s session with what appeared to be a lower-body injury, was absent from practice.
The NFL Network reported that Gronkowski’s injury is minor, but the Patriots apparently are taking the cautious route with their All-Pro tight end. Healthy or not, it was a safe bet that Gronkowski would not be in the lineup Thursday night against the Bears, as he hasn’t played in an exhibition game since 2012.
Other notable absences Tuesday were defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who missed his third straight practice, and defensive end/linebacker Shea McClellin, who was out for the second straight day.
Safety Nate Ebner made his first appearance since returning from the Rio Olympics, but was not in pads and participated only in stretches and light running.
Edelman was an honest-to-goodness full participant (including 11-on-11s) for the first time this summer.
He looked no worse for the wear despite the aforementioned thud he absorbed from Jones-Quartey.
Edelman looked quick and squirrely and drew the day’s loudest reaction when he toasted Bears cornerback Tracy Porter with a ridiculous double move during one-on-one drills. Porter was so disgusted he stopped and gave up on the play as Edelman zoomed downfield.
With Brandon Bolden out (he’s been on a maintenance schedule), the Patriots were down to four full participating running backs in LeGarrette Blount, James White, Tyler Gaffney, and Joey Iosefa. Dion Lewis has yet to be spotted this summer, while Donald Brown and D.J. Foster have been doing mostly conditioning work . . . Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers turned 23 Tuesday . . . Former Patriot Akiem Hicks, who signed with the Bears in the offseason, said the Patriots were “most definitely” in the mix when he was deciding his future. “How could you not want to come back to a great team like this?” He also added, “I think the organization of this team is something every team in the NFL can emulate.’’ . . . Belichick elicited some laughs when asked about having two Long brothers practicing on the same field. “Yeah, one big one and one not-so-big one, right?” he said. New England’s Chris Long is 6 feet 3 inches, 270 pounds, while his younger brother Kyle Long is 6-6, 320 . . . The Patriots officially released safety Brock Vereen, who retired Monday . . . Today is the final open practice of camp. The shorts-and-shells session is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Video: Tuesday’s training camp report
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org