Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli isn’t pleased his unit has gone two consecutive games without a takeaway. They whiffed on an easy one Sunday at Pittsburgh.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence blew up a running play in the backfield, knocking the ball loose from Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. The ball bounced right into the hands of safety Byron Jones, who tried to scoop and score with it.
But Jones let it slip through his hands and the ball went out of bounds. Pittsburgh kept possession.
“We have a ‘country’ fumble and we have a ‘city’ fumble,” Marinelli said. “A country is a little more open area, so you can go ahead and scoop it. A city is you want to jump on it. I think [Jones] made the right decision —you’ve just got to go down and pick it up. You’ve got to get two hands on it.
“It’s an art to bend your knees as you’re running, but you’ve got to focus your eyes on top of the ball and bring it up. If there’s any doubt, it’s a city.”
Jones expressed his frustration on missing the play afterward, saying it’s a ball he has to come up with.
Lawrence also wasn’t happy with Jones, and thought Jones should’ve treated it like a “city” fumble.
“That was kind of city ’cause he’s close to the sidelines,” Lawrence said.
But isn’t Jones athletic enough to make the play?
“I expect him to get the ball, first and foremost,” Lawrence said. “I don’t care what he does with it after he gets it. He can run out of bounds, he can go score, he can fall on the ground. I don’t care what you do as long as you get it.
“I mean, I can’t give him a hard time ’cause I’m going to have my mistakes, but he didn’t get it this time. … I give him a hard time because if I run all the way across the field and bless you with a fumble, you’ve got to scoop it up and score. That’s just the way we roll, you know?”
For the season, the Cowboys have 10 takeaways and are one shy of matching their dismal total from last season. But it’s been a point of emphasis dating to the off-season, and Marinelli knows they must create more turnovers going forward.
This could be a good week to get things going in the right direction, too. Baltimore’s offense has given the ball away 14 times (nine interceptions, five lost fumbles).
“That’s who we are. We’ve got to get them,” Marinelli said. “To get where we want to keep going each week, you’ve got to get them. We had one in our hands, didn’t come up with it. You have to and we know that. We coach it hard every day. … We’ve got to go get them this Sunday.”
Wide receiver Dez Bryant landed on the injury report Friday, being limited with a back injury and is listed as questionable against Baltimore.
But Bryant was moving around fine in the locker room after practice, and is expected to play. Bryant missed three games this season recovering from a hairline fracture in his right knee.
Bryant had his most productive game of the season last week at Pittsburgh, catching six passes for 116 yards, including a 50-yard TD pass.
Joining Bryant as questionable Sunday are backup quarterback Tony Romo (back), Lawrence (back), left tackle Tyron Smith (back/ hip) and swing tackle Chaz Green (foot/ back).
All are expected to be active, though.
Green has not played since Week 4 at San Francisco after sustaining a foot injury, but practiced every day this week on a limited basis. He declared himself ready to go Friday, but knows it will ultimately be decided by the coaching and medical staff.
Cowboys vs. Ravens
Noon Sunday, KTVT/11