Sweat was pouring down the face of a reddened Derek Landri as reporters gathered around to hear about the fight. His teammates were passing by and giving him a hard time for the small fit of rage they just witnessed.
“Angry,” they bellowed. “UFC 151!”
People are learning, a reporter started in with, that you don’t mess with Derek Landri.
“Dude I don’t know. I don’t know what type of answer you want,” he responded. “Just playing hard.”
Actually it’s a little more than that.
As practice was winding down Sunday afternoon, Clay Harbor caught a shovel pass in the red zone and rumbled in for the touchdown as Landri tried to strip the ball late. The outcome of the play already determined, Harbor took umbrage with the defensive tackle’s aggression and started what he thought would be a typical shove-and-separate training camp tussle. But Landri had other ideas.
The 6-2, 290-pounder threw what looked like an uppercut punch before proceeding to rip the helmet off Harbor’s head. With the situation escalating Harbor zipped out of the lion’s den before chucking the ball at Landri.
“It’s competition. I’m just trying to finish the play, trying to strip him. Sometimes you can’t tell where you’re at on the field,” said Landri. “He didn’t like it, turned around and tried to swing. I didn’t like that, so I retaliated.”
This is not the Notre Dame product’s first dust-up at Lehigh this summer. He has been front-and-center for a few skirmishes, most notably one in the beginning of camp that escalated to a point where Michael Vick and Juan Castillo felt compelled to jump in and try to break it up. Vick got his hand stuck in a group of battling linemen, but made it out fine. It was here that Vick vowed never to play peacemaker again.
“Guys are a little upset from last year, and they’re taking it out now,” said Landri at the time.
“Shoot, it’s now or never; take no prisoners.”
Landri is not just being noticed for his temper alone. With Mike Patterson still sidelined after offseason brain surgery, he grabbed the starting tackle spot and has not let go. Against the Steelers, he forced one Eagles sack and added two tackles for a loss. It was the same type of disruptive play that we have seen in camp. Jason Kelce called him the team’s best defensive tackle, or at least the hardest for him to block.
As Harbor was exiting the Varsity House late Sunday afternoon, LeSean McCoy called over to the tight end with some advice:
“Rule 1 of a fight: Leave your helmet on, dude,” he said.
But with Landri, you don’t always have a choice.