IRVING, Texas – Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has a new plan for creating turnovers: change their name.
Ryan said he's come up with a new name at practice for intercepting a pass or forcing a fumble.
"We obviously are not good at getting turnovers, so we're going to get takeovers this week," Ryan said. "We changed the name, and I think we're going to do much better."
Ryan jokingly hoped the name change might help the Cowboys get the ball back to their offense. Dallas has the top-ranked pass defense and the No. 2 total defense in the league, but it also holds the second-worst turnover ratio in the NFC at minus-eight, and the secondary hasn't picked off a pass this season.
"We've got a sound defense," Ryan said. "We've got great players, we're not turning people loose, we do a great job. The takeovers are coming, and that's what we're going to do."
This week they'll have to come against a speedy, powerful quarterback in Cam Newton. Ryan said Newton is a tremendous athlete, and there's a reason his posters are all over the place. But, the Cowboys will still try to bring pressure to start creating more "takeovers."
Ryan knows Newton has the ability to get loose if he squeaks by the pressure, but he said he won't let Newton's "college offense or high school offense or junior high offense" beat him.
"You've got to be smart," Ryan said. "Obviously, when you're pressuring the quarterback, you want it to be a pass. We're not a big run-blitz team like some people are. We play with great technique, and we're going to prove it this week."
Handling Claiborne's Knee
Monitoring rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne might be an option this weekend, although Ryan said he doesn't want to take him off the field.
Claiborne has sported a brace or a pad over his knee since spraining his MCL in the preseason, and the cornerback left part of last Sunday's matchup against the Ravens after hurting his knee. Ryan said Claiborne has done well fighting through the issue all season.
"At this time of year, everybody is getting banged up," Ryan said. "We're going to hit it right, get everybody back healthy and go after this thing."
The other option Ryan could use to spell Claiborne is cornerback Mike Jenkins, although he also left Sunday's game after aggravating his shoulder.
"That's a possibility, but obviously the kid's really getting good," Ryan said. "He's getting better each week, and it's hard to want to take him off the field when you see his improvement."
Linebacker Anthony Spencer is questionable after being limited in practice all week while dealing with a pectoral injury, which has held him out the last two games.
The Cowboys haven't played with their entire expected front seven all season because of injuries. If Spencer can go this weekend, it would mark the first time this year that he and defensive lineman Jay Ratliff played together in a game.
"When Spencer gets back, we've got our pass rush and front and people better duck," Ryan said. "That's all I'm saying. We haven't had our guys full speed, but when we get Spencer back, we're going to be full speed."