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August 19, 2012

Claiborne declares his Cowboys' debut "good" but not "great"; teammates like first impression

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, the team’s first-round draft pick, did not wow himself with Saturday’s performance in his first NFL pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers. The stats show two tackles, both after short completions, in two quarters of action.

He made no big plays. But no one torched him for a big play, either.

“Was I great? No. But I feel like I played a good half in my first NFL game,” said Claiborne, who reported no physical issues involved with his surgically-repaired wrist or his knee, which he sprained in training camp. “I know there’s going to be more to come. I’ve just got to keep working and get better.”

The part that satisfied Claiborne was how he handled his mental responsibilities in his first game in a Dallas uniform.  

“I think I did good. I didn’t blow any assignments,” Claiborne said. “So I think the mental part was pretty good.”

Teammates thought the rookie, who was taken with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft, more than acquitted himself in his Cowboys’ debut.

Asked what he thought of Claiborne’s play, linebacker Victor Butler said: “That we probably should have picked him up No. 4 overall, He’s a tremendous asset to the defense. This was his first game and he’s only getting his feet wet. He hasn’t fully dived into the pool yet. I’m truly excited to see what he has to offer.”

Butler said he is excited about the prospect of having Claiborne and free-agent signee Brandon Carr, who had two interceptions against the Chargers, locking down the Cowboys’ corners in 2012.

“With him and Brandon Carr back there, we should be getting coverage sacks out the wazoo this year,” Butler said.

Carr said Claiborne handled the moment, in his estimation.

“The lights weren’t bright for him. It wasn’t a big moment for him,” Carr said. “He kept his poise very well. He went out there and battled. He made some tackles. He finally got his first taste of NFL receivers and I can’t wait to get back home and see what he does in Cowboys Stadium.”

The Cowboys play their first pre-season game at home Aug. 25 against the St. Louis Rams.

_ Jimmy Burch

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