Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith, a former University of Utah star, was sent home from training camp Friday after he punched teammate Ken Lucas during practice, causing the starting cornerback to be carted off the field holding an ice pack to his left eye.
Panthers coach John Fox said Smith and Lucas returned to Charlotte after the fight in Spartanburg, S.C. The team didn't provide an update on the extent of Lucas' injuries and club officials declined to say if the volatile Smith, the team's top receiver, would be suspended.
"We're going to handle this matter internally," general manager Marty Hurney said.
Smith's agent, Derrick Fox, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The melee came after both players had taken off their helmets in a break for starters during a special teams drill. It was unclear what provoked the fight. While the two have routinely jawed at each other in practice since Lucas signed with Carolina in 2005, they've never come to blows in view of reporters.
"When that happens on the field usually guys have helmets on," quarterback Jake Delhomme said. "But this happened on the sidelines, so it probably wasn't a good idea."
When attention turned from the field to the fight, several players and Fox rushed to the scene. Fox tried to separate the two, but it took linebacker Jon Beason to pull Smith off Lucas.
Lucas walked to a tent, holding his head while accompanied by a trainer. Smith was then escorted there by receiver Muhsin Muhammad to talk to Lucas.
"Steve was probably a little remorseful for what happened," Muhammad said. "He was trying to apologize, so I was walking with him just to be there."
After being treated for several minutes, Lucas walked to a nearby cart and was taken to the locker room.
Smith spent several minutes talking to kicker John Kasay on an adjacent field before he was escorted to the locker room by Hurney as practice continued.
"Anytime something like that happens you're obviously disappointed," Fox said. "It's part of football and you deal with it."
The coach had an extended talk with the team after the workout. Delhomme said Fox warned the players not to retaliate against Smith.
"I don't anticipate this having any lingering effect on this team," Delhomme said. "We were talked to and things were squashed. That's it. That's the way it is. It happened. There will be no retaliation by anybody on anything. When you look at the schedule we don't play the Panthers this year. So we need to be smart when we're out there."
A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Smith has had trouble controlling his temper. He was suspended for a game in 2002 after punching teammate Anthony Bright during a film session. Smith received counseling for anger management, and a lawsuit filed by Bright was eventually settled out of court.
Despite a history of poorly timed penalties following angry outbursts, Smith signed a contract extension last year through the 2012 season that makes him one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers.
A possible suspension to Carolina's top playmaker cast a shadow over the team Friday afternoon.
"Obviously everybody is going to be waiting to see what the repercussions are from this event," Muhammad said. "I'm just praying that we rally together as a team, because obviously there's going to be some adversity here. The focus is not where it needs to be right now.
"I'm hoping we can all come together as a team, as a family, and are able to put this behind us."
MCCARTHY: MARKETING DEAL GOOD FOR FAVRE, PACK: Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says a potential marketing contract for Brett Favre could benefit the star quarterback and the team. More importantly, it also could resolve their standoff over Favre's retirement.
The marketing deal, worth a reported $20 million over 10 years, might end Favre's bid to return just months after retiring and presumably would keep him from reporting to Packers training camp when the team is not planning for him to start. Favre confirmed he was considering the marketing deal to ESPN Thursday.
"Brett needs to stay a part of football," McCarthy said after practice Friday morning. "Obviously, he's a part of the Green Bay Packers. This is really something that's been out there all along."
McCarthy said the deal, which was interpreted by some as a last-minute bribe to keep Favre away from camp, actually has been on the table for months. McCarthy said he first heard about it at Favre's retirement news conference in March.
RAVENS PLAYER SUSPENDED 1 GAME: Baltimore Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington was suspended one game without pay for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy, a punishment stemming from a domestic violence arrest in February involving his girlfriend.
Washington is allowed to participate in all preseason practices and games until his suspension begins Aug. 30 and ends after the Ravens' Sept. 7 season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.
"I put myself in a bad situation, and I did not handle it the right way," Washington said. "I was wrong and made a mistake. My girlfriend, my attorney and I wanted a quick resolution and knew that a suspension could happen."
ALLEGED SHOOTER IN 'PACMAN' CASE INDICTED: A Nevada grand jury has indicted a man accused of shooting three people in a strip club melee involving NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones. A Las Vegas judge waived an appearance Friday for 29-year-old Arvin Kenti Edwards of Renton, Wash., and scheduled him for arraignment Aug. 5.
Edwards is charged with felony attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm, and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.
He's accused of shooting three people outside the strip club after Jones was involved a brawl inside. The fight occurred during a raucous NBA All-Star weekend in February 2007.
Edwards was arrested April 18 and is being held at a Las Vegas jail.
STRAHAN VISIT WITH COWBOYS NOT A 'FAVRE MOMENT': Michael Strahan was on the field with the Dallas Cowboys at training camp Friday.
No, Strahan isn't having his own "Favre moment" and doesn't already want to come out of retirement. And he wasn't there to show off his Super Bowl championship ring won last season with the New York Giants, after beating the Cowboys in the playoffs.
Instead of spying on a division rival, Strahan who left his title ring at home visited the Cowboys as "an observer" for his new role as part of Fox's NFL pregame show.