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July 22, 2013

Cowboys open camp with turnovers on their mind: taking it away on defense, taking care of ball on offense

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Oxnard _ After a 2012 season in which the gave the ball away too many times on offense and took it away too few times on defense, turnovers are a big emphasis for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2013 season.

It's the main reason the Cowboys made the change on defense from the 3-4 to the 4-3 scheme and brought in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and line coach Rod Marinelli to lead the way.

It's also why they plan to emphasize the run more on offense to help take some pressure off quarterback Tony Romo, who tossed a career-high tying 19 interceptions last season.

"We've got to run the football better," coach Jason Garrett said. "We got to run the football more, that’s going to make our offensive line better, it’s going to make our quarterback better, certainly our tight end and our receivers better and our defense better. And I think when you do that, you spread the burden. And I think what you try to do as a coach, you try to put your team in the best position to have some success. And given where we were last year, we did what we did. But you certainly want more balance. You certainly want to take the burden off the quarterback and allow him to make a lot of the plays that he’s made through the years and minimize some of the mistakes that he’s made, particularly in relation to the ball."

Likewise the Cowboys are emphasizing taking the ball away on defense on daily basis in training camp, starting with affecting the quarterback with the rush to ball hawking in the secondary.

"You are always making the emphasis," Garrett said. "Certainly the credibility that Rod has coming from Chicago (last year) where they created so many turnovers and the credibility that Monte has through the years. If you follow this style of defense, it's put your hand on the ground and go get the quarterback. If you affect him, he doesn't throw where he wants to throw consistently and you can make plays in the secondary."

It emphasis has already had an immediate impact in training camp with four takeaways in the first practice. Garrett pointed out that the defense didn't get many turnovers in OTAS. 

"The emphasis is paying off for them but similarly it makes your offense better," Garrett said. "When they are constantly ball hawking and going and getting that thing, you have to protect it better. You have to secure it better and that is a good thing for our team."




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