Cooper and Williams fight at Eagles practice

Quarterback Michael Vick (in red) tries to restrain cornerback Cary Williams after Williams and wideout Riley Cooper got into scuffle during a drill at the NovaCare Complex.
Quarterback Michael Vick (in red) tries to restrain cornerback Cary Williams after Williams and wideout Riley Cooper got into scuffle during a drill at the NovaCare Complex. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 07, 2013

Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and cornerback Cary Williams got into a heated scuffle at Thursday's practice, and a player close to the incident indicated that it was related to a video that surfaced five weeks ago of Cooper using a racial slur at a June concert.

According to the player, who did not want to be named, Williams used the same slur Thursday that Cooper used in the video. The player quoted Williams as saying, "I'm not a n- you [mess] with."

In June, Cooper attended a Kenny Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field and, by his own admission, got into an altercation with a security guard. During the argument, Cooper said he would "fight every n- here."

Cooper, who apologized to the Eagles after the video became public July 31, downplayed Thursday's scuffle after practice and said it had nothing to do with the racist comment in the video.

"Both being super-competitive, going for the ball, and we were tangled," Cooper said.

Williams did not comment after practice. When approached, he responded, "Don't even come by here. I'm not talking at all."

The Eagles had no comment.

The scuffle started when the players got tangled up in one-on-one drills and fell to the ground. Cornerback Brandon Boykin and assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght separated the players, but Williams threw his helmet to the ground and went back at Cooper. That's when Williams started screaming and used the slur.

Quarterback Michael Vick jumped in and tried to hold Williams back as the corerback continued to scream at Cooper. Williams then said something to Vick, and the Eagles quarterback was also held back.

After the fighting stopped, Williams walked to a separate field and walked up and down by himself.

Cooper appeared distraught and stayed out of one-on-one drills that involved receivers and defensive backs until receiver DeSean Jackson went over to him. Jackson eventually walked over to Williams and had a conversation. Cooper said Williams later commented that he ran a nice route during the drill.

A practice scuffle is not uncommon. Running back LeSean McCoy said that if it had involved Jackson and Williams - and not Cooper - it would have not received as much attention. Other players also said it's part of a routine football practice.

Jackson said that he broke up the fight because he's a leader on the team and that fighting is not going to help the Eagles on Monday night against the Washington Redskins.

Williams has engaged in several dustups during his career, including a brief scrum with a Patriots wide receiver when the Eagles hosted New England at the NovaCare Complex for scrimmages last month. He and Jackson were also in one during a game last season.

"He's just one of them guys where he's just a nag in person sometimes, and being on the field he tries to be over-aggressive," Jackson said. "He tries to do things where he intimidates receivers. Some people might back down from it, but dealing with myself, maybe Riley, whoever else, guys aren't really afraid of that."

After the video surfaced in July, several players were upset by what Cooper had said, although others stood behind the fourth-year receiver. Cooper took a leave of absence to seek counseling.

Williams was one of the players who said that he had problems with what Cooper said but that he was willing to welcome him back to the team once they spoke. Cooper said he has had no issues with his teammates since his return.

"They've been normal," Cooper said. "It's been great. Everything's completely 100 percent normal. We're all real close. Everybody. Cary included. He's my boy."

Cooper also said he hasn't heard comments from other teams about the video. But McCoy said words have been uttered on the field. That could intensify as the regular season approaches.

"I think for sure a lot of guys will do dirty things to him," McCoy said. "Obviously, they're going to say things to get under his skin. . . . We definitely have his back. And we're not blind to the fact of what's going on. So sure, a couple guys will take their shots at him. Even in the preseason, guys said different things, small things. You got to be open to it and understand that's the consequence that goes along with that."

McCoy, who was initially outspoken about his disappointment in Cooper, said "it seems like normal again" and that he focuses on the Cooper he knew "before the incident." He insisted there's a difference from when the situation started, although other teams do not know Cooper the way the Eagles do.

"Any time there's something extra on the field with Riley and another teammate or an opponent, that's the first thing that's going to come up," McCoy said. "Especially if the guy's black."

Contact Jeff McLane at Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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