Cardinals' defense off to good start in takeaways

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm •  Published: August 20, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Early in training camp, new Arizona coach Bruce Arians said he cares about only two defensive statistics: turnovers and points allowed.

"They've taken the message to heart," he said.

Through two preseason games, Arizona has forced eight turnovers, tied with Chicago for most in the NFL. The Cardinals have allowed a total of seven points, fewest in the league.

Dallas had six turnovers, five in the first half, in Saturday's 12-7 loss to the Cardinals.

Of course, there's no guarantee this trend will continue into the regular season.

But it won't be for lack of emphasis.

Creating turnovers has been preached by the new staff since its arrival, and honed in drills every practice.

Arians said the team is blessed to have defensive backs and linebackers who have the ability to catch the football as well as to strip it from the hands of an opposing player. Of course, Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson has that kind of talent. But he's not alone.

"Now that we have a lot more playmakers that have the ability to take the ball away from opposing offenses, it's definitely a point of emphasis," Peterson said.

Still, the turnover possibilities begin with Peterson, whose knack for catching the ball has led Arians to use him on offense as well as the team's shutdown corner and punt returner. Last year, his second in the NFL, Peterson had seven interceptions, fourth-most in the NFL. Four of them came in consecutive games.

Jerraud Powers came with Arians from Indianapolis and will start at the other cornerback spot. He has started all 42 of his NFL games but has been slowed at times by injuries. He missed the last half of the 2012 season with a toe injury.

Arians, the Colts' interim head coach most of last season, said Powers was the only injured player to travel with the Colts. He said he wanted Powers around because of his knowledge of the game. He also said Powers' interception in a come-from-behind victory over Green Bay was the play that turned everything around for the Colts, sending them to a surprise playoff appearance.

On Saturday against Dallas, Powers stripped the ball from Dez Bryant for one turnover and intercepted for another.

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