It took a bit of a cheap shot in the not-full-contact portion of a scrimmage Sunday afternoon, but with one pop from Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox on wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys Blue-White scrimmage intensity went to a different level.
"J.J. put a nice hit on me," Bryant said to a crowd of reporters. "It (bleeped) me off, but at the end of the day, I loved it and I told him keep it coming."
For nearly two weeks, Cowboys training camp has been a one-sided win for the offense. And, before Wilcox's hit, it looked to be headed that way again, as Tony Romo led his side to two early touchdowns by the white team that looked flat-out easy.
"The coaches said it's time to stand up and make some plays, and I just tried to be the spark today," Wilcox said. "Unfortunately, (it came) against one of the best receivers we've got."
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The Cowboys defense, filled with fairly unknown names and disrespected youngsters, finally responded to the challenge, highlighted by an impressive interception in the two-minute drill by veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
"I don't see people across from me, it's black and white, win or lose," Scandrick said.
Playing without two other contributing defensive backs Sunday (Brandon Carr for personal reasons and Mo Claiborne with a knee injury), Scandrick has been impressive in Oxnard while going one-on-one against one of the top receivers in football in Bryant.
"I just have a different mentality," said Scandrick. "I want to take myself to a different level, and today was a day I could see results of what I'm working on."
Scandrick's play, along with a fumble return for a touchdown by defensive lineman Martez Wilson, helped the defense match the Cowboys offense more evenly than they've shown all training camp long, and gave coaches a glimpse of the potential improvement Dallas desperately needs.
"We've just got a chip on our shoulders," Wilcox said. "We were 32nd in defense last year, and it's time to step up and make Cowboy nation come on and start getting some wins."