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October 09, 2012

Cowboys, thinking turnovers, challenge themselves to turn around their paltry interception numbers

The Cowboys came back to work this week with their mind on turnovers.

At least, that was one of the main things they were asked about after their bye-week break.

“We’re stressing that every day at practice,” safety Danny McCray said. “We should get it right sometime.”

The Cowboys are minus-7 in turnover ratio, second-worst in the league. Only Kansas City, at minus-15, is worse. New England and Atlanta are first at plus-10.

“Some of it is luck,” McCray said. “Some of it is catching the ball when it comes to you. And other ones are disruptions – getting hands up in the quarterback’s face. If you know you’re not going to get there when we’re blitzing on a sack or something, just try to get a hand up and get a tipped ball.”

Cornerback Brandon Carr, with eight interceptions in four years before coming to Dallas, said each player must aim to find a way to make a takeaway.

“It's a personal challenge that each one of us has to accept,” he said. “You have to challenge yourself to put it upon yourself within the scheme of our defense to go out there and you be the one to make that play. You be the one to make the difference for the defense. But at the same time, you have to be smart about it, read your keys. Just try to remember everything you went over in film, studying what your coaches taught you and just go out there and just play.”

The Cowboys have one interception this year, from linebacker Sean Lee off a ball that bounced off the intended receiver. Victor Butler, Barry Church and Orie Lemon have each recovered fumbles. DeMarcus Ware has forced three fumbles, and Lee has caused one.

Still, the Cowboys have only two interceptions over the past 10 games. They had only one in the final six games last year (also Sean Lee, against the Giants at Cowboys Stadium) and have only one in the first four games this year.

“You work on a lot of different things during the week with drills, and those things have been good for us in the past, and you just have to carry those things to the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But it’s a team thing, we talk about that all the time. On offense, the ball security is a team thing. It starts with the guys up front, the guys protecting, the guys blocking, certainly the guys who have the ball in their hands, and similarly on defense, if you create havoc for the quarterback, and he has to do things quicker than he wants to do, typically those result in interceptions.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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