One of the better pieces of news to come out of the Dallas Cowboys mini-camp this week has revolved around the development of third-year conerback Morris Claiborne. In 2012 the Dallas Cowboys gladly packaged their first- and second-round draft picks for the opportunity to move up and select Claiborne with the sixth overall selection of that draft. The elation that many of us felt at drafting "the best corner prospect since Deion Sanders" has, to this point, been the highlight of his time as a Cowboy.
Injuries have prevented Claiborne from being able to fully participate in the off season developmental programs that would have helped ease his transition to the National Football League. This time around, the former LSU Tiger has been healthy and the results are telling. Claiborne is working hard to regain the starting slot that he lost to teammate Orlando Scandrick last season.
"Competing his butt off. He’s embraced that he’s got to play better, and he’s doing a good job." - Cowboys DB coach Jerome Henderson on Mo Claiborne
The 2014 version of the Dallas defense is going to need players to step up; Claiborne is beginning to indicate that he is ready to be one who does just that. It is not just Claiborne's health that has improved; the young player is also working hard to perfect his trade. His efforts have not been lost on the the coaching staff, including head coach Jason Garrett.
"He has developed. I think he’s gotten stronger. He hasn’t necessarily put on more weight; I just think he’s gotten stronger, and he’s more mature physically, and I think his technique is getting better. I think with that, you develop some confidence, and you need confidence in any position you play – but you certainly need it if you play corner in the NFL. You’re out there by yourself a lot." - Jason Garrett
Nothing will be given to Claiborne; he is going to have to earn it. He along with veteran corners Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick will all be competing for the two starting slots. Mo is blessed with unique physical talents, and if he is now healthy and mentally where he needs to be, 2014 should be the season where Cowboys fans see the player that they thought Morris Claiborne would be when the team drafted him back in 2012.
TC will feature a CB battle for Cowboys. 3 way for 2 starting spots and 5 way for 4th maybe 5th spot. Expect high competition— Birddog26 (@Birddog26) June 19, 2014
It will be a while before we know the results of that competition; it is going to take more that a few good performances in mini-camp to sway emotions. No matter who ultimately wins the battle, improved performance and heated competition will pay off for the Dallas Cowboys this fall.