TAMPA — With bodies and egos colliding all around practice fields, altercations are common in the NFL.
But Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib let a routine run-in escalate Wednesday, inadvertently striking would-be peacemaker Torrie Cox with his helmet in an apparent attempt to hit left tackle Donald Penn.
Cox's agent, Peter Schaffer, said his client was attempting to break up the skirmish. Penn said that Cox, a veteran cornerback at 28, sustained facial cuts he described as minor.
Talib, the Bucs' 2008 first-round draft pick out of Kansas and perhaps the centerpiece of the team's secondary this season, has drawn unwanted attention with this run-in, which comes a year after he fought with then-teammate Cory Boyd at the league's rookie symposium in California.
''We are discussing the specifics of this situation,'' general manager Mark Dominik said in a statement, ''and will provide an update as we proceed.''
Penn, 26, cautioned against overreaction.
"Everything is fine," he said. "Brothers fight all the time. It happens."
Penn, 6 feet 5 and 305 pounds, said he and the 6-1, 205-pound Talib, 23, were not initially involved in a physical confrontation.
"It wasn't really a fight," Penn said. "It was a verbal fight. I don't want it to be a bigger deal than it is. This stuff happens all the time, but you don't hear about it in the media."
Teams such as the Bucs, in their second week of voluntary offseason practices, have latitude to take action that can include fines and suspensions.
Panthers receiver Steve Smith was suspended two games by the team last year for a practice-field fight with cornerback Ken Lucas. Smith punched Lucas and broke his nose.
Had Wednesday's actions occurred in a game and against an opponent, Talib likely would have been assessed a stiff fine and suspension.
Talib is expected to start at left cornerback this season. His one-on-one coverage skills will be relied on heavily in defensive coordinator Jim Bates' new scheme.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]