IRVING, Texas – Practice scuffles between teammates aren't anything new for any team in the NFL – however, they usually happen during the dog days of training camp, not the second day of June minicamp.
But there it was Wednesday, a rite typically reserved for a mid-August practice session, as the Cowboys' offense and defense converged on a skirmish between Tyrone Crawford and Travis Frederick at the tail end of the team's minicamp practice.
"Well, these guys have been going at each other a little bit. And you know, it's I guess our 11th practice of the offseason," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "We're in a two-minute type situation, and we always preach competitiveness and competing and you have to compete the right way. The best teams I've been on have always had skirmishes happen, a healthy respect for each other."
The two main perpetrators of the fight weren't a pair you would expect to see – Frederick and Crawford have tended to stay out of the limelight to this point in their careers. Jason Witten, who has seen plenty of training camp battles during his tenure with the team, said it's good to have that competitive nature.
"We've had nine, 10 hard practices. I think it's been kind of adding up and fueling up in these guys' minds and it was a little hot and competing out there, so it's all right," Witten said. "It's good, though. It's good to have that kind of competition, good for our team."
The Cowboys would love to see more of that tenacity, particularly from Crawford, who many hope can help revitalize the Dallas pass rush. Asked about Crawford having a nasty streak, Garrett said his mentality plays a big part in his development as a player.
"A lot of what makes Crawford the player that we think he can be is who he is – the kind of guy he is, how important it is to him and how he goes about every opportunity that he gets," Garrett said. "He brings it on every play, he's trying to get better on every play." - David Helman
The changes new tight ends coach Mike Pope brings to practice can literally be seen. Or, in Jason Witten's case, can be harder to see.
Witten said Pope had the tight ends wear goggles at Wednesday's practice, which made the ball more difficult to see.
"He's the guru of tight ends," Witten said. "It's pretty neat to be around a guy like that that's had so much experience. Today we had these goggles, like swimming goggles, catching passes. He's got all the tricks."
The goggles made it to where players couldn't see out of the corners of their eyes, according to Witten, who added how excited he was to work with Pope this year.
"Your head's got to take you to the ball," Witten said. "Today was our first day of doing it, so we'll see how it goes. I did pretty good today, but…it's a work in progress."
Head coach Jason Garrett knew about the sleds Pope used to help the tight ends with blocking, but he said he hadn't seen the goggles yet.
"I think they embrace that, tentatively," Garrett said with a laugh. "I think they're having a good time with that in practice." -Rowan Kavner
One day after the Cowboys implemented knee braces for all linemen, some of the defensive coaches went through practices sporting braces as well. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was among them, but jokingly tried to ignore the subject. It's clear he's hoping his players can focus less on the limitations they might feel with the braces. Marinelli did say his "knees feel pretty good today." [embedded_ad]
Interceptions have been scarce this offseason but the defense recorded three in a short span. Rookies Terrance Mitchell and Ahmad Dixon each came up with picks, as did linebacker Bruce Carter in the 7-on-7 drill near the goal line
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said the team is "still undecided" on whether to place Sean Lee on injured reserve or the Physically Unable to Perform List. Either way, it's highly unlikely he could even return by the end of the season.
The Cowboys wrap up the summer practices indoors Thursday with the final day of minicamp held at AT&T Stadium. It'll be the last team-functioned event for the players until they report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif. - Nick Eatman