IRVING, Texas –To say Brandon Carr's ready for the 2014 NFL season might be a drastic understatement.
The Cowboys' cornerback lost 10 pounds, feels like he's in the best shape of his life and has already set his goal tremendously high for the upcoming year.
"I'm trying to take over the league," Carr said Sunday from the "Taste of the NFL" event at the Gaylord Texan. "I get emotional when I say that, because I'm, like, dead serious. I've been playing this game for six years now. I'm just ready to make that jump and become that shutdown corner."
Why, exactly, does that make Carr emotional?
"Because this is the game that I love, and I've been playing it for a very long time, and I invest so much into this game and sometimes you get sick and tired of losing," Carr said, "and you just get fed up with a lot of things that go on and now it's time to just take the reins and take over and take control."
Carr's spent two seasons with the Cowboys since signing his five-year, $50.1 million deal. The first came in the 3-4 system with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The second came in the 4-3 with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
He'll stick in the 4-3 again in 2014, but this time with his third different defensive coordinator in Rod Marinelli, hoping to break out of the constant 8-8 mediocrity the Cowboys have found themselves dealing with the past few years.
"As this thing gets on the run, we'll see how it shakes out, but we just want to be in a position to win ballgames," Carr said. "We felt like we disappointed ourselves last year. We've got a big chip on our shoulder, but last year's the past. It's time for us to clean the slate."
That slate includes three interceptions for Carr each of the past two years. He led the team in the category in 2012 and was second last season. The Cowboys dealt with yet another scheme and a plethora of injuries last year, but Carr doesn't want to list those as reasons for finishing last in the league in defense.
"You can throw all those excuses in there if you want to, but at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter," he said. "We learned from that, we got better as a team, we learned each other more. Now it's the second year in the scheme, second year playing together, we'll see some better results this year."
Carr reiterated that he lost the 10 pounds in an effort "to take over the league." He also did it to focus on his speed. Despite some struggles, he said in different situations the last two years he felt like he was able to showcase himself. But he doesn't want to harp on the past, and he said he's ready to have fun in 2014 and make more plays.
That doesn't mean the disappointment and frustration didn't surface as the defense faced its struggles. [embedded_ad]
"It was frustrating for a minute, which is why I had a good offseason because I got away from everything and just kind of regrouped to get myself prepared for everything that's going to come at me this year," he said. "It's been kind of a rollercoaster, like I said in times before, but at the same time, I worked hard to get in this position and I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm going to embrace everything that comes my way, the good and the bad, but you know, now it's time to step up and take charge and get my guys ready to go on Sundays."
Carr spoke from the 10th annual "Taste of the NFL" tailgate party, which supports the North Texas Food Bank's children's feeding programs and features gourmet food, a silent auction and appearances from past and present Dallas Cowboys players in Grapevine, Texas.
The corner wouldn't give much insight into what changed with his work habits this offseason, saying he wasn't going "to give away his secrets," but he trained differently and said he's in the best shape and looking the best he ever has during his football career.
He's not sure if he can keep off the 10 pounds throughout the year, but as long as he's as comfortable as he is now, that doesn't matter much to him.
"I don't really care," Carr said. "It'll probably come back. A little bit will come back, but it's just all about speed now. So if I pick it back up and I'm still fast, then it's fine. But we're going to have speed, hit hard this year. Take over the league – that's going to be your headline."