PHILADELPHIA - Eagles cornerback Cary Williams just couldn't take it anymore.

Williams explained after Sunday's practice at Lincoln Financial Field that he got into a fight during the team's joint practice with New England last week because he was tired of hearing the Patriots talk trash about the Eagles.

"I understood what would happen, but there a reason behind what I did," Williams said. "There was a method behind what I did. They came into our house talking. They had a lot of jokes and 'tee-hees' and laughs. Dirty plays that were going on.

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"I knew we weren't supposed to do anything, but when I see one of our guys get blocked in the back, it's hard not to retaliate. Being a doormat is something I'm not used to."

Williams, who spent the past four seasons with Baltimore, went after Pats rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson on the third play of the Eagles' 11-on-11 scrimmage last Tuesday, grabbing his facemask and yanking on it. Dobson did the same thing to Williams before players and coaches intervened.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick had warned players beforehand that fighting would not be tolerated, so Williams and Dobson were both benched for the rest of the practice.

Kelly didn't accept Williams' explanation that he was simply trying to send a message that the Eagles will not back down when challenged.

"One of the reasons we wanted to participate (in the joint practices) with the Patriots was we knew this wasn't going to turn into a WWE brawl, because that's not what it is," Kelly said Sunday. "It's a game of football and if you do that in a game, you get thrown out.

"We could go get in a street fight, but that's not going to help us. There's a certain way you're supposed to play this game. It's between the whistles. The stuff after the whistles is not what we're looking for."

A different culture

While with the Ravens, Williams was part of a hard-hitting defense that featured middle linebacker Ray Lewis, linebacker Terrell Suggs and safety Ed Reed.

The Ravens routinely tried to intimidate opponents with their aggressiveness and nasty attitude. Last season, Williams got into a skirmish with Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson during the Ravens' regular-season game at the Linc. Williams also bumped an official during a scuffle with some San Francisco players during the Super Bowl.

"I came from a different culture, a different life," Williams said. "We had a certain way of doing things. It definitely would have been a different situation if this had happened in Baltimore. It wouldn't have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I can tell you that.

"Every time I strap on my pads, my teammates become my family. Every time I strap up, it's almost like a religion."

Williams hasn't strapped on his pads lately, however.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder missed all of the voluntary offseason workouts, instead opting to attend his daughter's dance recital, pick out sconces for his new house, undergo dental surgery and get married.

Sunday's practice marked just the third time he made it through a practice since training camp began July 25. Besides getting ejected last Tuesday, he also has been hampered by a strained hamstring that kept him out of Friday's preseason game, a 31-22 loss to the Patriots.

The defense struggled against the Pats, giving up 442 net yards. Pats running back LaGarrette Blount rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Running back Steven Ridley added 92 yards and a TD on eight attempts. Quarterback Tom Brady completed 7 of 8 passes for 65 yards and a TD.

The Eagles' defense has struggled the past few seasons. Last year, the Eagles allowed 23 or more points in 12 of 16 games, including 30 more seven times.

Williams said he spoke with former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, who cited the need to create a certain attitude that's been missing since Dawkins left after the 2008 season.

"He was talking about instilling the Eagles' way, the Brian Dawkins way," Williams said. "We need a nasty attitude, no question. I feel like we've got to establish a toughness, a tenacity and a hard-nosed defense that's something to be feared. Right now, I don't know if there's a team in the league that fears us."

Extra points: Rookie tackle Lane Johnson, the team's first-round draft pick, missed Sunday's practice. His wife, Chelsea, gave birth to their first child Saturday. Kelly lauded Johnson's performance in the preseason game against the Patriots, calling him the team's "most consistent" offensive lineman.

The Eagles signed rookie free agent long-snapper James Winchester to sub for Jon Dorenbos, who sat out Sunday after suffering a concussion in Friday's preseason game against New England.

Safety Kenny Phillips left practice after suffering a right leg injury. Knee injuries have hampered Phillips during training camp.

In addition to Williams, tackle Dennis Kelly (back surgery), defensive tackle Antonio Dixon and running back LeSean McCoy returned to practice. Dorenbos was among eight players to sit out, joining running back Bryce Brown (strained quadriceps), linebacker Phillip Hunt (sprained knee), wide receiver Damaris Johnson (strained hamstring), linebacker Casey Matthews (sprained knee), tackle Jason Peters (strained hamstring) and tackle Ed Wang (sprained knee).

The announced attendance for Sunday's workout was 28,000.

The Eagles return to practice at the NovaCare Complex today before about 400 invited guests.

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