Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall were nearly ready to rumble at Jets camp.
The New York stars got testy with each other during training camp practice Friday, with the two jawing and Marshall eventually taking a swipe at Revis.
"Last year, we got really close to that line of super-duper competitiveness," Marshall said. "Today, we crossed that line. But again, that's part of camp and part of competing."
Revis and Marshall talked trash throughout practice, and things appeared to come to a head when the wide receiver caught a pass on a comebacker midway through. Marshall yelled at Revis, who was lining up for the next play, and then hit Revis' shoulder pads with an open-handed swipe.
Marshall said he didn't connect, and former offensive lineman Dave Szott, the team's director of player development, stepped between them. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa then picked up the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Marshall with a bearhug and separated him from Revis.
"That's like his job, to calm me down," a smiling Marshall said of the 6'2", 225-pound Enunwa. "He's so strong."
There were no real fisticuffs and the situation was diffused before things escalated further, but the two continued to jaw at each other for the remainder of practice. Marshall even referenced Revis getting beat a few times last season in a game against Houston's DeAndre Hopkins.
"We don't condone swinging, and we talked about it," coach Todd Bowles said. "It's about that time of camp when it gets a little chippy. But we put it out before it got started."
Marshall said he was angry that Revis hit him in the face earlier in practice during 1-on-1 drills - and that set the tone.
Revis opted to not speak to the media after practice.
"I beat him two times in a row and then on the third one, he swung and hit me in the face," Marshall said. "Ever since then, it got really competitive. That came back up in that moment. And I just told him, 'Don't ever put your hands in my face again like that.' And he kind of baited me to do it, and I did it. Kind of went too far.
"There's a thin line between football and being a man."
Marshall said the two had not yet spoken about the incident, which came on the eighth day of camp practices.
"We just have to move forward, and it may take a couple of hours," he said. "We can't go in the locker room, and there's not going to be any brawl or anything like that. It's just, hey, he got the best of me a couple of plays and I got the best of him a couple of plays and now we've got to move forward."
The Jets play their preseason opener next Thursday night against Jacksonville.
"We're both pros," Marshall said. "We're both competitors, both from the same town (Pittsburgh area) and cut from the same cloth. We understand that what happens on the field stays on the field. Revis and I are actually really close."
They seemed very much adversaries for most of practice, though. Marshall said the way Revis handled things in the 1-on-1 period "was what you would do to a rookie."
So Marshall took it personally. And, he added, Revis helped raise his game - and his temper - the rest of the practice.
"Obviously, Darrelle is the best to ever do it," Marshall said. "I've said that and I keep saying that. Not just in his generation, but ever. So, every time I get a chance to go against him, it's going to make my game better and I'm going to go as hard as I can. It's hard to catch a ball on Darrelle, and if I can catch a ball on Darrelle, I can catch a ball on anybody."
Marshall acknowledged that his biggest mistake was cursing out a referee in frustration for not throwing a penalty flag on Revis.
"That's the thing that I feel bad about," he said. "Although he should've thrown the flag, I should have never said that to the ref."
Bowles appeared to have no problem with what went on between Marshall and Revis, saying there were plenty of others who contributed to the overall "chippiness" of practice.
"You love them competing," Bowles said. "You need some motivation. You're going to get (mad) in camp as a player. It's not charm school. Both of them got to where they were for making plays and for not backing down. Neither player is going to back down. You like that about the competitiveness. You've just got to keep it clean. For the most part, they did."