2 Brawls Highlight Joint Practice

The Cowboys might have discouraged their players from getting into any altercations with the visiting Oakland Raiders, but it didn’t amount to much.
Two different scuffles between the teams dominated the center stage Tuesday at an intense joint practice. Things ramped up first for the Cowboys defense first when Morris Claiborne and the Dallas secondary got into it with the Oakland offense.

Videos of the play show Claiborne making a tough tackle on Mychal Rivera near the sideline, dumping him to the ground.

“I just felt like the guy dropped his shoulder on me,” Claiborne said. “I just went up and went for the tackle, because he dropped his shoulder on me, and it turned out a brawl.”

With tensions already high, Oakland receiver Greg Little jumped into things and went after Claiborne. The altercation drew both teams to the sideline, where Little and Bruce Carter wound up going to the ground in a big scrum.

As if the teams weren’t enough, several fans entered the fray, tugging on Anthony Hitchens – and one fan swung a souvenir helmet at B.W. Webb.

“We just got into, man – two teams going after it, and there happened to be some fans, too,” Webb said. “I wasn’t expecting that, but whoever jumped off my back, I had to get them off.”

Not 15 minutes later, as the Cowboys’ offense went against the Raiders’ defense, it was J.C. Copeland and Oakland linebacker Justin Cole coming to blows. The pair fought through a long, physical block that only ended when Cole took Copeland’s helmet off, and the rookie dropped the linebacker to the ground.

“He kept putting his hands in my face, and, being the competitive type of man that I am, I just pushed him,” Copeland said.

It might not have been what Cowboys coach Jason Garrett wanted, but Copeland said it was good to get the competitive juices going against another team.

“It really is – I felt good about hitting somebody,” Copeland said. “I hadn’t hit anybody in a long time, so it felt real good.”

Copeland was in good company. Asked about the brawls, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he was excited to see the enthusiasm that resulted in getting two teams together for a practice – specifically teams with large local followings like the Cowboys and Raiders.

“It has always been about my town against yours. It’s always been about my team against your team. This is football,” Jones said. “You don’t really get to play 30 games or 20 games or 10 games with each other. It’s usually one, if it’s a division it’s two, so it really is the pride of going out there and who can get the pigskin in the end zone. So a lot of enthusiasm out here.”

Quick Hits:

The Raiders were located in Los Angeles from 1982 until 1994, and they practiced in Oxnard from 1985 until 1995. As a result, there’s a good deal of fan support for the team in the area. Claiborne said that enthusiasm gave him an idea that Tuesday’s practice would bring out a lot of effort – both from the fans and players. “I kind of knew it was going to be like this, because just walking around on the off days, you can see how many Raider fans and stuff are here,” he said.

Unlike many of his Raider teammates, Andre Holmes knew all about the Oxnard River Ridge practice fields. Actually it was just two years ago when the wide receiver showed up for Cowboys training camp in 2012 as the favorite to become the No. 3 receiver. Instead, he failed the conditioning test to open camp and never caught up on the depth chart, eventually getting released. Holmes has since landed with the Raiders and is now one of their starting receivers. In his second career start last Thanksgiving, Holmes had 136 yards on seven catches against the Cowboys. While he called that game “huge” for his confidence level, he was just as anxious to practice in a familiar atmosphere.

“I was very excited to go against some of the corners I had to go against a couple of years ago,” Holmes said. “I know I’m a better player now. It was something I could prove to myself how much better I am. It was so close to being game-tempo that it was good work out here.”
Along with Holmes, other former players and coaches with Cowboys’ ties include long snapper Jon Condo, who was also once in Oxnard in 2005 training camp. Fullback Jamize Olawale, who was also here back in 2012, remains on the Raiders’ roster. Former Cowboys kicker and kicking coach Chris Boniol is now an assistant with the Raiders.

As expected, Tuesday’s attendance was easily the largest of training camp so far with 8,326 fans, which included a large contingent of Raiders fans. The Raiders actually trained at this same facility in Oxnard in the 1990’s.

Some of the celebrities in attendance Tuesday included NBA Hall-of-Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.


Notable Standouts:

Doug Free – The veteran tackle enjoyed a nice practice, perhaps even better than camp standout Tyron Smith. The Raiders sent their three best pass rushers – Justin Tuck, Khalil Mack and Lamarr Woodley – against the Cowboys offensive line, and Free excelled. He stymied Tuck during his only rep of one-on-one drills, and he stuffed the explosive young Mack later on.
Morris Claiborne – It stood out to see Claiborne lead the charge for the defense during one of his first day’s back from injury. He wasn’t remotely hesitant to dump Rivera, who weighs in at a solid 6-3, 245 pounds. Cowboys coaches probably don’t want to see fights, but Claiborne’s willingness to hit is encouraging.
Jeremy Mincey – Mincey was one of the only Dallas defensive linemen who excelled in individual work against the Oakland offensive line. He got plenty of reps against the Raiders tackles, and he got around them a variety of ways – both slipping past them and bull rushing them to the ground.


Play of the Day:

It’s hard to pick a play other than the one  that started all the commotion. Rivera caught a short route down near the far sideline. Claiborne, who was dropped deep into coverage, raced up the sideline to make the tackle. Rivera dropped his shoulder low, and Claiborne wrapped his arms around him, picked him up and dropped him to the ground. The hit set the tone for the rest of practice.


Transactions:

August 9 – The Dallas Cowboys waived rookie free agent punter Cody Mandell (Alabama) and Waived/Injured rookie free agent running back Ben Malena (Texas A&M) on Saturday. The club also signed rookie running back D.J. Adams (Portland State).


August 12 – The Dallas Cowboys waived guard Andre Cureton and signed guard Stephen Goodin and punter Tom Hornsey. The Cowboys also traded DT Ben Bass to New England for CB Justin Green.


Injury Report:



Returned To Practice:

CB Sterling Moore (CB)
DE George Selvie (groin)

Missed Practice:

DT Henry Melton (groin)
CB Tyler Patmon (hip flexor)
DE Ben Gardner (shoulder)
S Matt Johnson (hamstring)
TE Jordan Najvar (ribs, oblique; limited)
WR Dezmon Briscoe (concussion)
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (ankle)
DE Anthony Spencer (knee)
DT Amobi Okoye (illness)
DT Terrell McClain (ankle)
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