- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. – Rookie safety J.J. Wilcox has an acute case of “Bill Bates syndrome,” according to head coach Jason Garrett.
“Yeah, he told me that after he cussed me out,” Wilcox said.
The issue: Wilcox hits too hard during practice. The third-round pick has delivered several big blows to teammates, highlighted by a hit that put running back Phillip Tanner on his back. As far as problems go, it’s a pretty good one to have with a safety.
“Bill Bates is the nicest person on the planet until he gets between those stripes and then he just tackles everybody,” Garrett said, comparing Wilcox to the former Cowboys safety and special teams star. “And he did that forever, and he’d tackle them to the ground and then he’d say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ He’d pick them up and do it the next play.
“Some guys just have that, and you love that and you have to constantly teach them how to practice, but you love that nature that they have. Wilcox has a little bit of that. Wilcox tackles way too much in practice, and you kind of coach both sides of it: ‘Hey, keep doing that, but don’t do that.’ You know what I’m saying?”
Wilcox gets the mixed message.
“It’s understandable,” said Wilcox, who is trying to make a case that he can start as a rookie. “You just come in here trying to make plays as a rookie, just flying around and having a good time. Sometimes you have to slow off and (hit) the brakes a little bit. I’m learning that and learning how to take care of my teammates.
“On the defensive side, I got a pat on my back. But on the offensive side, I got a smack on my ass. Excuse my language, but that’s definitely what it was. It’s tough love, and I love it.”