OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett routinely gives the veteran players a day off in camp just to rest. Tight end Jason Witten, however, refuses to take one.
Garrett said that is the tight end's nature and relayed a story explaining why Witten does not like to miss anything or be held out of anything.
"We were playing Tampa a few years ago in the opener," said Garrett. "We liked this 'wham' play. A wham play is when you take a tight end or a fullback or somebody and you wham the nose tackle -- you let the lineman go up to the next level and you try to surprise the defense by taking this other guy to block this defensive lineman.
"We thought one of our tight ends, Martellus Bennett, would be very good at this. Big, strong physical guy. He'd be a great whammer. We thought it was important to stay in regular personnel, a true fullback, a true halfback. So we put this play in.
"It was a one-play package: Aggie 21. We were going to call it '32 Wham.' So Witt was going to come off the field, and Martellus was going to come in and wham the nose."
And there is where things got sticky.
"I have a great relationship with Witt -- have had a great one for a long time," said Garrett. "When we put this thing in, he literally didn't talk to me for a week."
Garrett remembered Witten saying: "I can't wham the nose? What do you mean? I can't wham."
"My image is, it's a 300-pound nose tackle and a guy who caught 100 balls last year is going to come up and have a separated shoulder," Garrett said. "It's not good coaching. So we had a battle where he did not talk to me for a week about Aggie 21 whamming the nose.
"So getting him to take a day off of practice is a little bit like the Aggie 21 story. You start the conversation. He nods his head, he continues to nod his head, and he goes out to practice again and again and again."
Witten acknowledges he may need to take a day off at some point whether he wants to or not. And, he asserts, he does not.
"I think in this league, it's not what you say, it's how you play," Witten said. "You've got to do that every day. I take a lot of pride in practicing and getting better through that. That was a situation, I think, he was trying to keep me healthy. I just didn't like it and I let him know I didn't like it. He's the coach, I'm the player and I respect that boundary, but that was a funny story.'
--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.