OXNARD, California -- There is nothing Rod Marinelli wants more from his Dallas Cowboys defense than to take the ball away.
Wednesday was a good start.
The defense forced three fumbles, recovering two of them, in the first full-padded practice.
“You’re never satisfied with a practice,” Marinelli said, “but there’s always a glow to it when you take the ball away because it’s helping us win.”
In training camp, there are two sides to the story. There might be concern about the offense’s ability to secure the ball.
“When you’re playing each other, it’s good for the defense and the offense needs to do a better job,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “All of the above. But I do think that’s the defense’s job.”
In 2014, Marinelli’s first year as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys forced 31 takeaways. Over the past two seasons they have forced 31 takeaways, including 20 last year.
On Wednesday, defensive end Damontre Moore popped the ball free from Terrance Williams as the receiver made his way down the field. Williams eventually recovered the ball for the offense. Safety Robert Blanton came up with a loose ball after a Keith Smith fumble, and rookie linebacker Darnell Leslie ripped the ball free from tight end Blake Jarwin.
“I think we took steps forward in certain areas last year -- against the run, points wise -- but we want to get a lot of turnovers,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “We have a great offense. We have to find a way to get the ball back to them. That’s a huge goal for us.”