OXNARD – The Raiders hoped to have an intense, physical, yet fight-free pair of joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys.
No such luck.
A huge brawl broke out near the sideline during a 11-on-11 session between the Raiders offense and the Dallas defense.
Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne laid a heavy hit on tight end Mychal Rivera near a sideline packed with Raiders fans behind a chest-high cyclone fence. Fullback Marcel Reece and receiver Greg Little rushed to defend Rivera.
Then a full-on brawl broke out. Even some defenders came over from the opposite field to join the massive scrum. Even some fans were taking swings over the fence.
After that team session was over right tackle Menelik Watson and Reece went over to the Raiders fans packed on that side and high-fived them and fired them up even further.
No one condoned the fight, but Reece believed it could hold some benefit.
“I’m proud of every single one of my guys,” he said. “That’s how you’ve got to do it. And it’s not about fighting. It’s about us having each other’s backs. It’s about us taking care of each other, playing the game the right way.”
Claiborne was the instigator, but he said he took his cue from Rivera to ratchet things up.
“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.”
It broke up in less than a minute, but the intensity was high. A Raiders fan was caught on a Vine video swinging a souvenir helmet at cornerback B.W. Webb, who pushed people away.
“I wasn’t expecting that, but whoever jumped on my back, I had to get them off,” Webb said. “It might have turned a little worse over there, but emotions were up, intensity was up. I didn’t go over there with intentions to hurt anybody or anything like that.”
That wasn’t the only scuffle of practice. A smaller situation occurred between the Raiders defense and Cowboys offense near the end of practice when Dallas fullback JC Copeland got his helmet ripped off by a Raiders defender. Early in the session guard Austin Howard got into a shoving match with Dallas defensive lineman Davon Coleman.