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August 25, 2013

Cowboys say defense can be even better with the return of injured starters

The Cowboys defense has shown what it's about so far this preseason.

The Cowboys have allowed only two touchdowns in the red zone this preseason, though opponents have been inside the 20-yard line 13 times. Dallas, which had only 16 takeaways in 16 games last season, has forced nine turnovers. It has allowed only 69 points.

Their best, though, is yet to come with the return of cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee) and defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee). Claiborne is expected back at practice this week. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said defensive tackle Jay Ratlliff's availability for the season still is in doubt.

"I've very excited about where we are right now," Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. "We will get Spencer back, Claiborne, Ratliff, and we will be even better. I'm not making predictions right now, but like I said, we have to keep working and playing like we have been playing, and we will be OK."

The Cowboys gave up the most yards in team history last season. They had five defensive starters on injured reserve by the end of the year. It is why Monte Kiffin is here, and Rob Ryan is in New Orleans.

The preseason has Cowboys owner Jerry Jones excited about how good his defense can be this season.

"I sure like our defense," Jones said. "I think it’s had two outings here that are pretty impressive."

-- Charean Williams

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