Dez Bryant said on Friday his new five-year, $70 million contract extension would not change the way he plays. On Sunday, he took steps to prove that point, with authority.
And a left jab.
Late in Sunday's practice in Oxnard, Calif., the Cowboys All-Pro receiver got into a brief scuffle on the field with second-year cornerback Tyler Patmon, the two ex-Oklahoma State Cowboys doing some extra shoving following a play.
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You can see some of that video in this tweet posted by the Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota:
Afterward on the sideline, the continued to jaw at one another until, according to NFL.com, Bryant threw his mouthpiece at Patmon, followed by a left hand.
According to the DMN, Patmon began the fracas by knocking Bryant's helmet off during the play above. But, Brandon George reported, Bryant became the aggressor, all the way to the punch-throwing:
Patmon was lined up across from Bryant at the line of scrimmage in team drills and the cornerback knocked off Bryant's helmet just after the snap. Bryant then knocked off Patmon's helmet and the two started throwing punches at each other before teammates stepped in on the field. ...
But Bryant wouldn't let it go. Patmon retreated to the sideline where the defensive players were standing and Bryant charged over and began yelling his way. With teammates trying to get Bryant to calm down, he threw a left hook in Patmon's direction before firing his mouthpiece at the cornerback. Bryant never landed any punches on the sideline.
Finally, after several minutes, [quarterback Tony] Romo stepped in and was able to get Bryant to back off and walk down the sideline to where the other offensive players were standing. Bryant paced around while Romo and receiver Terrance Williams talked to him.
Among those breaking up the fight with Romo were head coach Jason Garrett, running back Joseph Randle and defensive end Jeremy Mincey. The incident was, according to multiple reports, met by boos from fans in attendance. But it was also followed by the two combatants hugging it out.
Afterward, Bryant reportedly had nothing but praise for Patmon, telling reporters:
"It's two great competitors going at it. We were chirping a little bit back and forth. I got a little bit overheated. ... I was giving him a little bit of mouth, talking about a whole bunch of stuff to him. He was talking back to me, and it just escalated to the next play. ... He wasn't going to back down, I wasn't going to back down. ... At the end of the day, we shook hands, we hugged and we respect one another. …
"You don't want somebody weak on your team. (Patmon's) fighting his way and he's fighting for respect. And he's got mine then. You can go to war with a guy like that any day of the week."
Patmon told reporters, "We're family. It's intense out here, it's training camp. It's part of it. ... We love each other."
To wit Bryant replied, "No doubt [we still love each other] ... You go to war with a guy like that any day of the week."
NFL.com quoted Mincey as saying:
"Dez can be a hothead sometimes, but it's good. It's good to have passion and play the game that way. "
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten defended Bryant, instead reportedly laying into the media after, as George put it, "Bryant was swarmed by a horde of media as he came off the field."
"You guys are acting like a bunch of kids at a circus trying to get him," Witten said. "I mean, it's football. It's going to happen in training camp. Guys compete. Guys go at it. It's part of it."
Bryant reaffirmed after practice that he did not think much of the incident, retweeting multiple tweets that the two players are over it, then retweeting a tweet about media coverage before finally replying to a tweet about the hate he receives.
And to think, there are still six more weeks until the Cowboys' season opener.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report