How do you know the Dallas Cowboys are tired of practicing against each other and ready to go against another team?
After roughly two week of training camp practices without one real skirmish, multiple fights erupted, including several on consecutive plays, on Tuesday’s final padded practice before the fans in Oxnard.
It was easily the most hotly-contested practice of training camp and it came on a day when actor/comedian Jamie Foxx visited his favorite team.
The Cowboys held a walk-through practice Wednesday morning before going to Denver for a practice against the Broncos on Thursday in advance of Saturday’s preseason opener at Empower Field at Mile High.
Interestingly enough, Cowboys coach McCarthy was asked before practice about the lack of chippiness so far in practice.
“I want all of that, trust me,’’ McCarthy said. “Don’t think we don’t want that and we’re not pushing for it. But they’ve got to be disciplined at that point. Everybody’s got to lock up and get their guy out of there. That’s part of football.”
McCarthy was more interested in the quality of work. And a year after leading the league with 127 penalties, he has no use for silly flags that cost the team.
“Fights are a waste of time,’’ McCarthy added. “There was a day and age when we all enjoyed a good old fight. But you throw a punch, you’re out of the game.’’
No one was thrown out of practice Tuesday but McCarthy did pull his team together to yell at them at one point.
The primary feisty combatants were guard Conner McGovern, tackle Josh Ball, defensive end Sam Williams and defensive tackle John Ridgeway.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence dismissed the notion that the Cowboys needed to face another team. He said it was all about setting a standard and an aggressive tone.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to get ready to play against somebody else,’’ Lawrence said. “I think it’s trying to create our standard of being a great defense. We got dogs over there and we’re going to compete each and every chance we get. Being able to let the sparks fly, it was good for us. But being able to control (them) will be better for us.’’
Lawrence said rookie second-round pick Williams is one of the new dogs the team has on defense and he likes his attitude.
“Yeah, that’s our little pit bull,’’ Lawrence said. “That’s what we need him to be.”
Williams wouldn’t have it any other way. He said the chippy practice was about playing and competing on the football field. And it’s only going to make them better.
“Oh, I love it,’’ Williams said. “I know these guys don’t want to fight me. These guys don’t want to hurt me. We’re basically just doing what we love and having fun at it. That’s what I like about these guys. They’re going to come give it to me and I’m going to give it to them.”
“If you’re competing, you’re competing. You don’t want to be nice to the competitor, do you, no matter who it is? Especially in the trenches. We’re supposed to be these mean, tough dudes. We compete against each other.
Williams said after practice, everyone shook hands and said, “hey, good practice bro. It’s all love, you know.’’
And what did McCarthy say after practice?
“He said good work today.’’
Now the Cowboys are off to face the Broncos, where the competition and intensity will be raised another notch.
McCarthy doesn’t want fighting.
But expect the dogs to set the tone.