JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone believes defensive ends Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue can coexist in the same locker room, in the same meeting room and even in the same huddle.
They probably only have to do so for another five months.
Marrone provided little insight Tuesday into what prompted the players’ post-practice skirmish two days earlier and declined to divulge why Fowler was suspended and Ngakoue was not. Marrone made it clear, though, that he expects both guys to be able to work together moving forward.
The Jaguars declined to pick up the fifth-year option in Fowler’s contract, likely making this his last season in Jacksonville.
“In my experience, I’ve seen a lot,” Marrone said. “Things happen, and they’ll take care of it.”
Marrone suspended Fowler and All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a week for violating team rules and conduct unbecoming a Jaguars football player.
Neither one is traveling to Minnesota for two days of joint practices with the Vikings and a preseason game. The teams play Saturday.
“I’ve spoken to both players and obviously those conversations are private, and that’s really all I’m really going to say about it,” Marrone said. “I know that everyone has to ask it but, again, those decisions are internal and it is team violations and those are private.”
Fowler was involved in several fights Sunday, including one after practice with Ngakoue in which they had to be separated repeatedly. No punches were thrown.
Ramsey was one of several teammates in the middle of it. He shouted profanities at media members who captured the altercation on video and later took to Twitter to threaten reporters with “war” for releasing the video.
Ramsey also defended his actions on Twitter, saying “I’m always gone take up for my teammates kus I know what type of men and players they are forreal! Love my dawgs! If you don’t like it, oh well.”
“It’s just brothers being brothers,” said Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones, a 320-pound reason Fowler and Ngakoue couldn’t get at each other. “That’s all pretty much (what) I can equate it to. I mean, the same passion that you saw there is the same passion they have on Sunday. There was no problem. The only problem that we had is that it wasn’t in a controlled environment. We like to control everything that’s on this team so that’s the only problem that we had.”
The suspension is the latest setback for Fowler, whose checkered past includes two arrests.
Fowler was arrested last year for hitting a 55-year-old man, knocking off and stepping on his glasses, and then taking the man’s grocery bag and tossing it in a lake.
Fowler pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of battery, criminal mischief and petty theft. The case was closed in March, with Fowler sentenced to a year of probation and 75 hours of community service.
The NFL suspended him without pay for the season opener, a one-game penalty that will cost him $214,000.
Fowler also was arrested in Miami Beach in 2016 and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault against a police officer and resisting arrest without violence. The charges were later dropped.
Fowler, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, is in the final year of his rookie contract and due to make $3.64 million. He has 14 sacks the last two seasons, including two in the AFC championship game.
Asked whether Marrone hopes Fowler’s latest suspension will serve as a wake-up call, the coach said “I can’t answer that for him.”
“I think when he comes back Monday, it’s a good question, you know what I’m saying, that you might ask him,” Marrone said.