Tight end John Phillips spent four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before signing with the San Diego Chargers this offseason.
America's Team, Phillips said, is as intense and fiery as it's made out to be in the media … All the more reason the Chargers have a tall task in front of them Sunday, when they play Dallas at Qualcomm Stadium.
"There's so much tradition with that team," Phillips said. "Jerry [Jones] wants to have the most talented guys he can at each position. He tries to stack the team with talent and there's an expectation to win there.
"Top to bottom, there's a standard to meet. If you don't meet it, there's a lot of discipline things that go on, but essentially, the Cowboys are expected to win, expected to beat every team they play. Win and win big. There can be a lot of pressure in that, and that's what builds character is having that pressure on you at all times."
Phillips, lauded by teammates and coaches since arriving in San Diego for his pass-catching skills as well as his strong blocking abilities, said he enjoyed that introduction to the NFL.
"It was great for me as a young player to be there," said Phillips, a sixth-round draft pick by the Cowboys. "I have a lot of respect for the coaches and they way they coach. They coach hard. There's a lot of competition, and every week in practice, you get beat on a lot of stuff that you do. Those other guys don't back down. It's just one of those things where you're competing on the field, off the field, on the plane rides. It's just the way it is.
"It was good to be a part of. I really enjoyed it. I have a lot of good friends there so it will be fun to play against them."
On the field for Dallas will be Gavin Escobar, a tight end out of San Diego State University. Escobar, drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2013 draft, is learning under All-Pro Jason Witten, like Phillips did.
"He's a great guy to learn from," Phillips said. "You got a good example of how to watch film, how to break things down, what to watch for … He helped me out a lot. I spent a lot of time in meeting rooms learning from him, and really, learning from each other."
Escobar scored his first career touchdown last week, on a 24-yard pass by Tony Romo.