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October 02, 2013

Morris Claiborne still considers himself a starter, though he isn't starting

Morris Claiborne didn't start against the Chargers, but he still considers himself a starter.

Orlando Scandrick has supplanted the second-year cornerback in the lineup, but the Cowboys have played so much nickel that Claiborne is getting snaps. Scandrick has played 240 snaps this season, with Claiborne playing 203.

"I believe all our guys that’s playing, me and Orlando, I feel like we’re both starters," Claiborne said Wednesday. "It doesn’t matter who goes out first. We’re both getting the same amount of plays. Mainly teams are in 11 [one running back, one tight end and three receivers] and coming out like that where they’re spreading everything out, so we both have to be in the game at all times."

Claiborne, dislocated his shoulder against the Giants, and Scandrick took over the starting spot the next week. The Cowboys opened with three corners against the Rams in Week 3, with both Claiborne and Scandrick on the field. Claiborne played two more snaps than Scandrick did against the Chargers -- 64 to 62 -- with Scandrick having missed a few snaps while being evaluated for a concussion.

Claiborne ranks as the 17th most burned defender, having allowed 15 receptions for 332 yards and a touchdown while being targeted 25 times, according to STATS.

"He’s been off a little bit," Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said Wednesday. "He was hurt, and I think that sets you back a little bit. I’m not making excuses. He’s a great kid. He’s a great young man, and he’s bounced back. He made some really good plays, too. All they talk about is the plays that jump out at you, but he didn’t play bad or something like that. He’ll be starting and playing a lot this week."

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said earlier this week that Claiborne is struggling with his confidence and his technique, and executive vice president Stephen Jones said on his radio show Monday that "it's time for the injury thing to leave the scene [with Claiborne]; he needs to step up and make plays." 

Claiborne allowed six receptions for 115 yards against the Chargers, according to Pro Football Focus.

"It's ridiculous to say I'm going to go out today and nobody is going to catch a ball on me," Claiborne said. "That's ridiculous. Everybody gets balls caught on them each and everyday. I don't care who you are, playing corner. It's what you do out there. You have to bounce back from that, and you have to come back and not let it happen again."

Claiborne denies his confidence is shaken.

"I don’t know why everybody keeps saying that," Claiborne said of his confidence. "It’s just one of those things. Guys catch balls in the NFL every day. It’s just the way you take it. You have to bounce back and keep playing."

Claiborne continues to get pain-killing shot in his shoulder on game day, and he wears a harness for protection. He could need surgery at the end of the season.

-- Charean Williams  





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