Tensions high in practice vs. Chargers

SAN DIEGO – The practice between the Cowboys' offense and San Diego defense got feisty Tuesday with a mini-fight, lots of words and an unnecessary hit that nearly prompted a bigger fight.

It started when undrafted tight end Andrew Szczerba and Chargers first-round pick Melvin Ingram went a round or so following a running play. San Diego safety Atari Bigby shoved DeMarco Murray in the back after Murray and fullback Lawrence Vickers came in to help Szczerba, who went to the ground and might have been kicked by a Charger.

Szczerba was apologetic afterward because coach Jason Garrett told the players to stay away from the extracurricular activities.

“Just the heat of the moment,” Szczerba said. “Things happen but I’ve got to be smarter and react better to help my team. I hurt my team with that.”

Vickers was one of the first Cowboys in the middle of the scrum.

“No, it ain’t tough to jump in there,” he said. “I’m supposed to do that. I’m going to be there because I’m going to ride with my teammates through whatever. There’s a brotherhood here, togetherness. That the first thing we’re going to have is camaraderie, regardless of who it is I’m jumping out there. But then again, you’ve got to listen to coach and the coach wants us to get good work in without that.”

A few plays later, San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer unloaded on wide receiver Dwayne Harris underneath, sending him flying with a full-contact hit.

No punches were thrown, but players got together for a bit before they went back to their respective huddles.

After that, there were no more skirmishes.

“Back in the day we used to go against the Raiders and we used to do two practices, full padded, for three days, and about the fourth practice in the middle of the second afternoon there were a lot of fights,” Garrett said, “and there continued to be a lot of fights. It’s a real challenge for a player to stay focused because you want to stand up for your guy. That’s a good thing in football, that’s a good thing in life. But at the same time, you have to get your emotions under control and go do your job the next play. It’s a little bit of a mental test as well for the individual and our team, and I thought for the most part we handled it well.”