GREEN BAY – Jace Sternberger was willing to let it go, but his teammates definitely weren’t.
It didn’t take long for the first of two joint practices between the Packers and Texans to get a little rough on Monday. During a fairly early 11-on-11 period, Sternberger – Green Bay’s rookie tight end – caught a pass on a crossing route and took a shot from Houston rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.
The force of the blow knocked Sternberger’s helmet off, and then Johnson made it worse, taunting and celebrating by flexing over Sternberger for a moment.
Soon enough, Packers offensive lineman Lucas Patrick was leading the cavalry to Sternberger’s defense and a lot of players gathered on the north end of Ray Nitschke Field with nothing else really happening.
What transpired wasn’t new Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s idea behind hosting a joint practice in Green Bay for the first time in 14 years, and he talked with Houston coach Bill O’Brien about the incident as the workout continued.
“I thought there was no place for that,” LaFleur said. “We addressed it. It’s an unfortunate deal, because I was pretty clear with our guys we’re not doing that stuff.
“That particular play, that’s not what we want to be about.”
Sternberger, who said he got his helmet knocked off last year in college on a similar play, got checked out for a concussion but was back in action relatively quickly. He said he mainly got the wind knocked out of him.
“That’s just football at the end of the day,” Sternberger said. “That’s a cliché thing to say, but it’s football and it happens.”
It also wasn’t his first run-in with Johnson. The Packers’ third-round pick made sure to throw in the comment that his Texas A&M squad beat the second-round pick Johnson’s Kentucky team in SEC play last year.