Source: Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP)—The moment Patrick Crayton was asked about Dallas, a big smile appeared on his face.
“I’m definitely ready,” the Chargers receiver said. “I can’t wait until Wednesday.”
Crayton played six years for the Cowboys and still lives near Dallas, where he grew up. Despite asking for his release twice in 2010, he has fond memories of his time with the Cowboys, an 82-game stint, before being traded to San Diego 10 days before the opener last year.
He’ll get a chance to face them this weekend. The Chargers fly Wednesday to the Dallas area, where they’ll practice with the Cowboys before playing them Sunday night.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Crayton said. “Made a bunch of friends. They’ll be lifelong friends. Loved the fans. It’s home, so it was a dream to play at home.”
But it will be Chargers garb that Crayton’s wife and two sons wear in Texas, not the silver-and-blue apparel that Crayton favored as a boy.
Nor will Crayton root for the Cowboys this year, although he will pull for several of his pals on the team.
He has found a new home with the Chargers, averaging 18.4 yards per catch last year before a dislocated wrist ended his season in the 10th game.
“Everything about Dallas was great, but so was coming out here,” Crayton said.
The Chargers acquired him for a seventh-round draft pick, also the round in which Dallas drafted him in 2004.
Crayton requested his release after the Cowboys drafted receiver Dez Bryant in the first round.
“Dez Bryant, that was almost like the icing on the cake,” Crayton said after a recent practice. “A lot of people think it was just that, but there were other issues. There was other stuff that led up to that, where we almost tried (to get a release) before that.”
He declined to elaborate but said it wasn’t easy to ask out, which his agent did again shortly before the trade. He hadn’t caught a pass in the preseason.
“I would have loved to have played the rest of my career there,” he said. “But sometimes things run their course. At that point, it was time to move on.”
He wrist injury, sustained when he landed in the end zone while scoring a touch down, is healed.
He is in sync with quarterback Philip Rivers and the offense of coach Norv Turner, which is similar to the Cowboys offense of coach Jason Garrett, a quarterback under Turner with Dallas in 1993.
As Turner saw more of Crayton, he found ways to accentuate the 6-foot 205-pound receiver.
“I love the slot,” Crayton said, “because I love working the middle and the underneath stuff.”
Crayton has found the team’s culture hospitable, too, impressed that the Chargers is made up of several veterans.
“We almost have a few more leaders in this locker room, which helps,” he said. “When it’s time for business, it’s time for business. When it’s time to hang out and have a little fun, they do that here. That’s what you love about it, being able to separate the two.”
San Diego remains something of a mystery to him, however.
“I haven’t been to the beach once, haven’t been to the zoo, haven’t been to Sea World,” he said.
Texas humidity, a far cry from the breezy comfort the Chargers have enjoyed this training camp, along with what Crayton calls “genuine Southern hospitality” will not be the only reminders that he’s back home. Football-mad fans will give him another clue.
“There are movies made about football in Texas,” he said. “Out on the West Coast, it’s a little bit different. We have passionate fans. But I haven’t seen a Chargers tattoo on anybody yet.”