Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

December 6, 2012

NFL: Cowboys lagging on INTs despite new cornerbacks

IRVING, Texas — Dallas cornerback Morris Claiborne probably figured his first NFL touchdown would come on an interception. The rookie had to settle for a fumble return because the picks have been hard to come by for the Cowboys.

After trading up eight spots to take Claiborne at No. 6 in this year's draft and committing at least $26 million to free agent Brandon Carr, Dallas is last in the league with five interceptions and the only team without a player who has at least two heading into Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

"We certainly want to create more takeaways,'' coach Jason Garrett said. "There's no question about that.''

Dallas scored three defensive touchdowns in two games against the Eagles, including Claiborne's 50-yard fumble return in Sunday's 38-33 win. In the first meeting, Carr had a 47-yard interception return and Jason Hatcher recovered a fumble at the goal line after a sack in a 38-23 Dallas win.

"We believe that turnovers and takeaways are a team thing,'' Garrett said. "So everybody's involved, pressuring the quarterback, tipping the ball, all of those things come into play. And certainly when you have a chance to make them, you've got to make them.''

Dallas had to make them, actually. The Cowboys had allowed four straight scoring drives by Philadelphia before Morris' fumble return. The previous game against Washington, the Cowboys watched the Redskins score four touchdowns in a quarter for the first time in 13 years.

Four starters are out for the year, and Dallas' defense slipped out of the top 10 after the Eagles gained 423 yards with rookies at quarterback and running back. Improving the minus-10 turnover ratio might be the only way for the Cowboys (6-6) to stay in the playoff race - or more games where the Dallas offense matches all the scoring drives, like it did against Philadelphia.

"We can't use (injuries) as an excuse, but I feel like that plays a big part in it,'' Claiborne said. "We just have to count on those guys to come in and get the job done. And ... we've been compensating for each other all year, from the offense to the defense. Every time we gave up a touchdown, they came back and scored a touchdown to keep us in the game.''

The Cowboys aren't anywhere close to the bottom of the league in turnover ratio - that would be Kansas City at minus-21 - but only three players expected to suit up against the Bengals have an interception.

Danny McCray, who was supposed to be a backup safety while focusing on special teams, has one along with Carr and Claiborne. The others belong to linebacker Sean Lee - out for the year with a toe injury - and safety Charlie Peprah, a midseason injury replacement who might not make it back this season because of a foot injury.

The turnover ratio for Dallas might be worse if not for eight fumbles, about in the middle of the NFL pack.

"We just have to stop them from scoring,'' linebacker Anthony Spencer said. "Any way we can do it - interceptions, fumbles, three-and-outs, six plays and out. Any way we can get off the field, that's how we've got to get it done.''

In the first game against the Eagles, Claiborne was beaten on a highlight-reel touchdown catch by Riley Cooper and penalized five times, including twice for offsides, rare for a defensive back.

"I've been a cornerback for quite a while and I learned in college that things are going to happen and you have to move on from it,'' Claiborne said. "But that game was a big teaching game for me. I felt like it was just growing pains for me, just growing up and learning everything in the NFL.''

The two Philadelphia games were the opposite for Carr. His biggest moment in Dallas was the interception return for a score last month, whereas he hardly wanted to be on the field Sunday night against the Eagles because of the murder-suicide in Kansas City involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, his teammate just a year ago. Carr knew Belcher and his girlfriend well.

Carr, who signed a $50 million deal over five years, was beaten by Cooper for a touchdown early, just as Claiborne was three weeks earlier. He finished with just one tackle.

"I can handle the scrutiny,'' Carr said. "I'm in a position where I'm fair game to everybody. I can handle whatever they have to say. All I can do is come every day, keep getting better and keep working.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0344web.jpg ‘Lucky 7’ comes through in the 3rd

    Over the course of his four-year baseball career at Verdigris High School, third baseman Ryan Skalnik has had his share of memorable at-bats.
    None more important than Tuesday’s appearance in the Large School East-West All-State Game at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa.
    Skalnik, who was the lone senior this season for Verdigris and a four-time Class 3A state champion, thrived under pressure in the top of the third inning for the East.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Larue, Skalnik power East to 3-0 victory

    The East blanked the West 3-0 in the Large School All-State Baseball Game Tuesday night at J. L. Johnson Stadium on the campus of Oral Roberts University.
    Claremore catcher Matt Whatley and third baseman Ryan Skalnik of Verdigris represented Rogers County in the contest.
    Skalnik finished 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI's.  Whatley was 0-for-1 with a walk.

    July 30, 2014

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Iowa offers free tuition to boost football sales

    The University of Iowa is offering a year's worth of free tuition to five randomly selected students who've purchased season tickets for the 2014 football season.

    July 30, 2014

  • FOOTBALL: Auburn, Clemson agree to play in 2016, 2017

    Auburn and Clemson have agreed to play a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017.

    The schools announced the deal on Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014

  • QB questions abound in SEC

    Quarterback battles and signal-caller questions abound in the Southeastern Conference going into preseason camps around the league.

    Big names, not so much.

    Division favorites Alabama and South Carolina will be banking on new starters. Ditto for Texas A&M, Georgia and defending East Division champion Missouri.

    July 30, 2014

  • MLB: Indians trade starting pitcher Justin Masterson to Cardinals

    Justin Masterson began the season as the Indians' ace. He'll end it with a different team in a different league.

    Cleveland traded the disappointing Masterson on Wednesday to the St. Louis Cardinals, a deal that will allow the Indians to get something in return for the 29-year-old righty who was in his final year under contract.

    July 30, 2014

  • Cop once drew gun on squirrel-hunting QB Winston

    Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and Florida State teammate Chris Casher were held at gunpoint by campus police nearly two years ago while hunting squirrels with a pellet gun, police say.

    July 30, 2014

  • NFL: Cowboys sign OL Tyron Smith to 8-year deal

    Tyron Smith has a new contract that will probably make him the most important blocker for the next Dallas quarterback after Tony Romo.

    The Pro Bowl left tackle signed an eight-year, $98 million extension Wednesday that pushes the total value of his deal to $110 million over 10 years, locking him up through 2023.

    July 30, 2014

  • NCAA proposed settlement raises medical questions

    A key feature of a proposed settlement of a head-injury lawsuit against the NCAA is the creation of a $70 million fund to pay for medical evaluations of current and former college players in several sports. The provision raises some sticky medical questions.

    July 30, 2014