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Witten, Wilson battling for bragging rights (1 Viewer)


Witten, Wilson battling for bragging rights




EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Gibril Wilson has this little thing going with Jason Witten.

If the Cowboys' pass-catching tight end gets a completion against Wilson, the Giants' safety hears about it in the offseason when the two former University of Tennessee teammates work out together in Knoxville. If Wilson gets him, Witten hears about it.

Once they take the field tomorrow in Texas Stadium, there will be nothing friendly about this friendship.

"Between the lines, I don't even know him," Wilson said. "I look forward to playing him because we went against each other so much in college, every single day. There's this whole competition going on."

Wilson grew close to the 6-foot-5, 261-pound tight end as a sophomore when Witten, a junior, was in his final season. Through covering him daily, Wilson got the same idea about him that many had the year before about the Giants' Jeremy Shockey when he played for Miami. Though different in style, they were both projected as impact tight ends coming out of college.

They have proven the scouts right. Shockey, turned loose again to catch passes after a year hibernating in blocking assignments, stands second in Giants receiving to Plaxico Burress with 17 catches for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Witten is tied with Terry Glenn for the Cowboys' lead with 23 catches, good for 261 yards and a touchdown.

Much more than dump-off targets, they get the job done in different ways: Shockey with speed and power, Witten with leaping ability and leverage.

"Witten can lean a certain way on you and get open," said strong-side linebacker Carlos Emmons, who will take Witten if his bruised left knee has recovered enough after one game on the inactive list. "Shockey, you try to sit on his route, and he'll fly past you. And if you try to bull-rush him at the line, he'll knock you over and get open like that."

Both did credible jobs against the other's team last year. Shockey, in his only appearance against the Cowboys, had five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown in Texas Stadium. Witten played both games and had a combined 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.

They both become primary receiving options on certain plays. And neither shies away from contact. Shockey, especially, would love a sudden meeting with Dallas safety Roy Williams or one of the linebackers.

"It's going to be a street brawl," Shockey said. "Every time we play Dallas it's a good game, and both teams have played well in the past. It's going to be a tough, physical game."

As for Wilson, he just wants to lay a few good hits on his buddy.

"He was the first tight end I ever saw that was so big and fast," said Wilson, whose college locker was adjacent to Witten's. "And even in college he ran good routes.

"He's improved now. He knows how to sell his routes. Everything about him says inside, and then he cuts it out. You just have to play your coverage and trust your help."

One way or another, they should have plenty to talk about in the offseason.


Good match up. I hope Gibril will be the one talking smack after this one is over.


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