Cam Heyward May 24, 2022; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) participates in organized team activities at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Joint practices have become increasingly commonplace during the NFL preseason. Instead of teams practicing alone against the same players and the same scheme over and over, joint practices allow a change of pace and a more competitive environment. They’re great in theory, but as Pittsburgh Steelers star defensive tackle Cameron Heyward bluntly explains, it rarely works out that way in reality.

Heyward, an 11-year league veteran and five-time Pro Bowler, slammed the concept of joint practices on Twitter, calling them a “2 and a half hour wrestling match with no rules or technique.”

“In theory it sounds cool to see you team compete in a practice setting but it’s basically a 2 and half hour wrestling match with no rules or technique which puts everyone on edge,” Heyward said. “Guys do things they would never do in a game that could lead to injury. Players fight for their team.”

Heyward’s comments come after a video surfaced of Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald swinging a helmet at Cincinnati Bengals players in a fight during a joint practice on Thursday. And that’s just a recent, and particularly ugly example. Fights have broken out all across joint practices this preseason, with one even injuring a fan.

Based on what we’ve seen, Heyward’s assessment seems accurate. And it’s particularly concerning that the NFL has no jurisdiction to control or punish players for their actions during joint practices. Perhaps joint practices need to be more regulated or stopped altogether.