Jason Witten not interested in days off

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
11:00
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OXNARD, Calif. – Miles Austin has had a day off. Jason Hatcher has had one. DeMarcus Ware, too.

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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett calls them vet days for his experienced guys.

Jason Witten, 31, hasn’t taken one -- and it doesn’t sound like he will take one. Not that it won’t be offered.

Here’s a great story from Garrett about Witten and trying to get him to take a day off:

“There’s a great story about Jason Witten,” Garrett said. “There’s a few of them we’ll all tell for years to come. One of my favorites is the Aggie 21 story. We were playing Tampa a few years ago in the opener. We liked this wham play. A wham play is when you take the tight end or the fullback or somebody and you wham the nose tackle. You let the linemen go up to the next level and you try to surprise the defense by taking this other guy to block the defensive line --a play teams have used forever in this league. We thought one of our tight ends, Martellus Bennett, would be very good at this -- big, strong, physical guy, and he’d be a great whammer. We felt it was important to stay in regular personnel, a true halfback and a true fullback, so we put this play in. It was a one-play package, Aggie 21, and we’re going to call 32 Wham, so Witten’s going to come off the field and Martellus was going to come in and wham the nose.

“I have a great relationship with Jason Witten. I’ve had a great relationship with him for a long time. When we put this thing in he literally didn’t talk to me for a week. ‘I can’t wham the nose? What do you mean I can’t wham?’ My image is here’s this 300-pound nose tackle and the guy who caught 100 balls last year is going to come off with a separated shoulder and that’s not good coaching. Literally we had a battle where he did not talk to me for a week about Aggie 21 and whamming the nose.

“So getting him to take a day off from practice is a little bit like the Aggie 21 story. You start the conversation. He nods his head and he continues to nod his head nad he goes out to practice again and again and again. He’s a guy that you want to make sure you try to give some rest. We’ll try to find some opportunities to do that … Your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness. He loves the game and he never wants to come off the football field. Somehow, some way, we’ve got to pry him off the field the next five weeks.”

Witten might be forced to take a day off soon, but he doesn’t want one. He never wants to come off the field.

“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.”

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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