The Dallas Cowboys have been without second year cornerback Morris Claiborne for the entire preseason after he suffered a knee injury in early August. Now, Claiborne returns to start in Week One of the regular season this Sunday night against the New York Giants. And despite reports that he is ready to go, it doesn’t mean the layoff will not hurt his effectiveness.
Earlier this week, Columnist Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News expressed some grave concerns over the return of Claiborne. Gosselin questioned just how game ready Mo’ could be after sitting out so long. I’m fairly certain the Giants are thinking the same thing. Expect Claiborne to get targeted on Sunday night.
But the former LSU alum is up to the challenge. He told The Shreveport Times he looking for big things to happen this year:
“This is going to be a big year in terms of my improvement from my rookie season. I feel I have made progress in the little time I was able to practice.”
Last season, Claiborne finished the year with 55 total tackles and one interception. Despite being chosen with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, he was outplayed by two second round selections. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins recorded 73 tackles , four interceptions and three touchdowns for the St. Louis Rams last season. And Green Bay’s Casey Hayward recorded 53 tackles and six interceptions in his rookie year. Both received more votes than Claiborne for defensive rookie of the year.
The Giants passing game is formidable, when quarterback Eli Manning is on his game. New York had the 12th best passing offense in the league in 2012. The Cowboys passing defense ranked 19th. But Dallas is looking to improve that number with new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin at the helm. His Cover 2 scheme will require more from Claiborne then former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme did. But it should also play to his strengths and give him more opportunities to use his athleticism to create turnovers.