Cowboys deal with Williams-Bryant flap

Updated: July 27, 2010, 12:56 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

SAN ANTONIO -- The Dallas Cowboys discussed Dez Bryant's refusal to carry Roy Williams' shoulder pads during a Monday morning team meeting and declared it a nonissue following the afternoon practice.

Bryant jogged off the field after practice, wearing his shoulder pads and carrying nobody else's. He did not speak with the media, a first for the first-round pick during his rookie training camp.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezRoy Williams carried his own shoulder pads after Monday's practice.

Williams won't ask Bryant to carry his shoulder pads again, but the veteran receiver cracked a smile as he threatened to run up a big bill when the rookie paid for a meal.

"If he doesn't want to take the pads, he doesn't have to take the pads," Williams said. "It's not a big deal. We'll just move on.

"We talked about it. He wants to concentrate on football. We're going to let him concentrate on football. But, when we go out to eat, I'm gonna be a little bit more hungry and a little bit more thirsty."

It's a common NFL rite of passage for a rookie to carry the shoulder pads of a veteran who plays the same position. Undrafted quarterback Matt Nichols carried Tony Romo's shoulder pads after Monday's practice.

However, Wade Phillips said rookies on his team don't have to do perform any such tasks if they don't want to. The Cowboys' rookies sing in front of the team every year and the veteran offensive linemen give their rookie brethren intentionally awful haircuts, but Phillips said those are voluntary activities.

"I don't believe that you need to initiate anybody," Phillips said. "They need to come out and play football and be a part of the team."

Phillips' evening press conference consisted primarily of questions and answers about Bryant's refusal to carry Williams' shoulder pads. Phillips said he felt the need to discuss the matter with his team because it got so much media attention.

"It's really a nonissue," Phillips said. "It's not a problem for either of them or our football team. I'd like to cut it off now and say we're not going to talk about it, but that's not the case for the Dallas Cowboys."

Several Cowboys veterans either declined to discuss the matter or gave curt answers.

"We'll take care of that in-house," said tight end Jason Witten, one of the team's captains. "We'll take care of it. Rest assured, everything will be squared away."

Added linebacker Bradie James, another captain: "It's nothing. I mean, you guys have got to talk about it, so you guys talk about it. For us, it's nothing. Think about it -- it's nothing. It just so happened to be Dez Bryant."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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