OXNARD, Calif. – The phrase "pepper down" has been implanted into Barry Church's mind and vocabulary.
Church, who was overaggressive on a couple missed tackles in Friday's preseason game against the Raiders, said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and head coach Jason Garrett keep using the phrase with him.
It's made an impression on Church, who insisted four times Sunday he needs to "pepper down."
"I've just got to break down in the open field," Church said. "I've got to work on being a little bit too aggressive sometimes. You've got to trust your teammates."
Church said he needs to worry about his own responsibilities and not worry about where others need to be or providing a kill shot on receivers and backs when he can make the sure tackle.
"If they get past us, it's a touchdown," Church said. "Definitely got to work on our tackling, because our defensive tackling was pretty bad (Friday), myself at the top of that list. Definitely got to work on that."
Two plays with the first-team defense on the field resulted in missed tackles for Church, who's typically one of the better tacklers on the team. He said they were a result of over-aggression.
"I was trying to kill shot everybody instead of peppering down and making the sure tackle," he said. "I was definitely just looking to go kill everybody out there, and you can't do that, especially in the open field."
Church, who finished with two tackles during the first-team defense's two series against the Raiders, said there's no excuse for those misses, especially considering the ease of the new defensive scheme. Church said he has a bigger and better grasp on Kiffin's defense, since there's fewer calls for him to make compared to last year.
He's also tried to preach to young players, including safety J.J. Wilcox, that being overly aggressive isn't smart. He said he needs to heed his own advice, while demonstrating he can be a long-term option at a position that's been in flux for the Cowboys the last few years.
"I feel like every game I have to go out there and prove myself," Church said. "I only got to play three games last year. This year, I've got to be able to play the whole season, so stay healthy the whole season and prove that I can be a long-lasting safety."