Cowboys doing lot of giving, not lot of taking
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IRVING, Texas (AP) - Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys have done a lot of giving this season.
That is good in charity, not when you're a team trying to win in the NFL.
With his five interceptions in the last game, Romo has already been picked off eight times this season. That's seven more interceptions than opposing quarterbacks have thrown against the Cowboys (2-2), and it accounts for the team's minus-7 turnover margin.
While it would be easy to blame Romo for that, especially since he also has two lost fumbles, the Cowboys' defense isn't really forcing turnovers.
"You think about it consciously as a defender, trying to strip the ball out, getting your hands up trying to get interceptions and that helps you win, so that's something that we're thinking about,'' defensive tackle Marcus Spears said. "Now, doing it and thinking about it is a different thing. So we've got to make plays like that to allow our offense to have a short field and give ourselves a chance to win the game on defense.''
Linebacker Sean Lee has the Cowboys' only interception, a pick at Tampa Bay's 23 that set up their only touchdown drive in a 16-10 victory. Dallas has recovered three fumbles, but one of those was Orie Lemon falling on a muffed punt against the Buccaneers.
After their bye week, the Cowboys play four of their next five games on the road. They play Sunday at Baltimore (4-1), and know they need to start creating turnovers.
"It's a personal challenge that each one of us has to accept,'' said new cornerback Brandon Carr, who had two interceptions in a preseason game. "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.''
At the same time, Carr said defenders have to be careful not to be too aggressive, to anxious or too eager to make a play.
"That's when bad things happen, and the big play comes on top of you,'' Carr said.
The only team with a worst turnover margin is Kansas City at minus-15. The Chiefs had four turnovers last week in a 9-6 loss to Baltimore, which fumbled once and threw an interception of its own.
The Cowboys were in the middle of the pack with 25 takeaways last season, when they finished plus-4 in turnover margin.
Coach Jason Garrett said there are a lot of different drills the team works on during the week in an effort to create turnovers. He considers ball security a "team thing,'' on both sides of the ball.
"It starts with the guys up front, the guys protecting, the guys blocking, certainly the guys who have the ball in their hands,'' Garrett said. "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.''
Romo has completed two-thirds of his passes and is on pace to throw for more than 4,500 yards, which would be a career high. But his eight interceptions so far are only two fewer than all of last season. And both of his lost fumbles came after being crushed between Tampa Bay defenders.
Asked Thursday what he could do to get better, and make sure he's not making mistakes while trying to do too much, Romo refused to go into detail about "the things that I think are going to help us in this football game and going forward.''
Notes: Rookie CB Morris Claiborne missed practice Thursday because of illness. ... Veteran punter Brian Moorman has a groin injury and may not be available this week. He punted in the last game after being signed following Chris Jones' sprained knee caused by a charging defender. There is a chance Jones could return this week. Kicker Dan Bailey could handle the punting duties if needed, but said Thursday he hadn't punted yet in practice this week. ... If neither Moorman or Jones are available, Romo might have to hold for Bailey's kicks. Romo said Thursday that he has taken some snaps this week on special teams.
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