OXNARD, Calif. – The most popular T-shirt issued to all of the players, coaches and staff this year at training camp has one simple word that's plastered right on the front:
It's probably the same word that most of the spectators and onlookers would use to describe Sunday's Blue-White Scrimmage here in training camp.
There wasn't much tackling going on, which was be design. But there was one pretty big hit, which certainly wasn't by design. That's probably why it led to the biggest fight of camp.
Like most incidents that involve heated emotions, Dez Bryant was right in the middle of the action. During a team drill that wasn't supposed to include tackling, Bryant caught a slant over the middle at full speed. The problem was, safety J.J. Wilcox was also closing in with the same force and neither could stop their momentum before the two slammed into each other right in the middle of the field.
Bryant, who held onto the ball, immediately went down on his back, but he didn't stay there long. He got right up and charged Wilcox, ramming the safety with a head-butt. But Wilcox countered with a punch to the head and that's when all of the players swarmed to the scene and created quite a skirmish.
Bryant and Wilcox continued to jaw at each other long after being separated, but eventually slapped hands after another play and then hugged it out on the sidelines.
After the scrimmage, Bryant broke his temporary media silence to discuss the incident, which he had a much different view about the hit from Wilcox.
"I love it. I love every bit of it. The reason why I love it is because that's what we need," Bryant said. "Just in the heat of the moment, it got physical. It turned into like a real competition. I felt it. J.J. put a nice hit on me. He pissed me off, but at the end of the day, I loved it. I told him, 'Keep it coming.' Hopefully the rest of the guys on that defense – not only the defense, but the offense and the whole team – feed off of that. That's what it takes to win. That's what we need to win. You've got to have that passion and that love for the game"
Ironically enough, Bryant said the hit was not a "cheap shot" yet Wilcox actually referred to the hit as one. [embedded_ad]
"It's a good thing he wasn't looking because he's a full head of steam at 220 (pounds) coming," Wilcox said of Bryant. "I got a good little cheap shot in on him. We're still brothers, though. We still talk and talk about us doing our thing. It's just part of football. That's a safety's dream to see a guy coming over the middle like that. I just hope I can take that to the game."
Before that hit, Bryant was seemingly having his way with the defense. He caught several slant patterns over the middle, including one in which he split the defenders and raced more than 70 yards to the end zone for a score. Even after the incident with Wilcox, Bryant caught another touchdown pass in the back of the end zone.
"It's pride and confidence. You've got to play with that. I honestly feel like the best teams do," Bryant said. "Now they expect greatness. The thing about that is you've got to expect it out of yourself. It's the only way you can come out here and play at a high level. You've got to know that you're good at something, at least think that you are, and then it'll happen. It will."
After the practice, both Tony Romo and Jason Garrett commented on the intensity of practice, which also included a spectacular interception by Orlando Scandrick, who then threw the ball in the air and towards the stands, which would've resulted in a penalty during a game.
Photos from Sunday's Blue-White Scrimmage in Oxnard, CA.
"The way to win in this league is to have an aggressive defense that plays that way week in and week out, and I think our team is trying to develop that," Romo said. "It's a fine line. I think you want to have tough, physical football players defensively; at the same time you want to protect your guys. These guys compete their butt off, and sometimes it's not the worst thing for your football team to have guys going real hard. At the same time, you've got to make sure it's legal and you're not hurting anybody on your team."
Overall, Garrett didn't seem to have any issues with the competitiveness, even if it went over the line.
"There's no question. Guys are in here fighting. That's a word we use a lot in training camp with our team," Garrett said. "And you see it, guys are fighting for spots on this roster. Guys are fighting for roles on this team. And certainly when you get into competitive situations they're fighting for guys across from them. If they didn't have that in them, they probably wouldn't be on our team. It's nice to see them grow and develop as a unit. We're not big into trash talking but guys are competitive. Guys like to go against each other and love being in those situations. Sometimes that happens. That's not all bad for your team either."
Hence why they put it on a T-shirt.