Morris Claiborne has held his own this season, but he is being reminded the season is only half over.
Quarterbacks have targeted the rookie cornerback 36 times, and he has allowed 23 receptions for 304 yards and three touchdowns. He also has 25 tackles, an interception and five defensed passes.
"I think it’s been really impressive," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Claiborne's play. "He came from a big-time program and played a lot of big games, so I don’t think at any time we feel like he’s been in awe of this situation. We drafted him for a reason. He’s a very talented guy. But having said that, he’s a rookie in the NFL, playing a very difficult position and he did miss a lot of time through this spring and through training camp. I do think his development in recent weeks has been really pretty good. He’s playing a lot. I think he learns from the experiences, and I think he’s playing with more confidence and aggressiveness and that’s a real positive thing for him. We certainly like him a lot."
When Claiborne has given up catches, he has bounced back nicely. Matt Ryan targeted him six times Sunday, and he allowed five catches, including a 38-yarder by Julio Jones in the first quarter, with one pass breakup.
"I feel like I did pretty well," Claiborne said. "I gave up a couple of plays, but I mean, it’s the NFL. Guys are going to catch balls on you. It’s what you do after that. I felt like overall I played pretty good."
The midway point of the season is the point where rookies tend to hit the wall. With four preseason games and eight regular-season games, the NFL has played a full college season already. Claiborne said fellow cornerback Brandon Carr has talked to him about the "rookie wall," and Cowboys coaches are trying to prepare Claiborne for the rest of the season to come.
"He’s got a great attitude," Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "He works to get better every day. But it is the truth: Guys go through it when they are young, and when they play a lot of snaps especially early, they do wear down. They’re not used to that long of a season. We definitely have to keep grinding. The big thing is he’s playing a man’s game now. He’s with professionals. He’s with these grown men. And he’s done a great job. I think however long this thing lasts, it may seen like it’s going to last forever, this young man has got a great attitude and a great work ethic. But it’s definitely something that happens to every rookie."
Claiborne said he is ready for the rest of the season."I don’t know how it’s going to feel," Claiborne said. "I’m feeling fine. I’m feeling like everything is good right now. I’m just going to keep pushing, keep working hard and just try to prevent that. I’ll know how it feels when it comes."
-- Charean Williams