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Rod Marinelli on his confidence in Morris Claiborne: “He’s there”

09/05/2014 7:52 AM

09/05/2014 7:53 AM

Morris Claiborne came to the Cowboys as the sixth overall pick in 2012 amid praise from owner Jerry Jones that he was the highest rated cornerback in the draft since Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.

That was then.

Asked about his confidence in Claiborne heading into Sunday’s season opener against the 49ers, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s lack of praise spoke volumes.

“Well, he’s there,” Marinelli said. “He’s our starting corner. That’s the confidence. He’s gotta go do it.”

Technically, Claiborne is the team’s starting cornerback because Orlando Scandrick, who beat him out last season, is suspended for the first four games of the season.

And “he’s gotta do it”, as Marinelli put it, because they have nobody else.

It’s an understatement to say that Claiborne has been a disappointment his first two years which have featured poor play and a litany of injuries.

He has just two interceptions in 25 games with the Cowboys.

He missed the entire preseason because of a sprained shoulder and will take a pain-killing injection on Sunday to get on the field against the 49ers. He was hobbled by a similar injury, requiring him to wear a harness for much of last season.

He says he’s good go to and ready to prove his doubters wrong.

Claiborne still must prove to the Cowboys that he is the player they thought he was and not one that just there because they have no one else to turn to.

“The challenge for him is to simply come back and be consistent, playing his position and all aspects of it,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “Did a really good job recovering from an injury at the end of last season and he had to deal with another one during training camp. He’s really worked hard to get himself healthy and ready to go.

“He has a chance to be a really good player for us and a complete player for us. Part of being a complete corner is being able to cover, play man, play zone but also be a physical player at the line of scrimmage and as a tackler. We feel like he’s improved in that area and hopefully this injury that he’s been dealing with doesn’t prevent him from being able to do that.”

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Charean Williams has covered the NFL for 21 seasons. She's a Hall of Fame voter, a past president of the Pro Football Writers of America and a proud Aggie. Follow her on Twitter at @NFLCharean

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has been the Dallas Cowboys beat writer since 1997. He's battle tested with one playoff win, six coaches, countless scandals, controversies and unfullfilled expectations. Follow him on Twitter at @clarencehilljr

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Drew Davison joined the Star-Telegram as a correspondent in 2007, primarily covering high schools along with helping out with Rangers, Cowboys and colleges coverage. He became one of the Rangers beat writers in July 2011, and also assists with coverage of Texas Motor Speedway and the Cowboys during the offseason. Davison graduated from the University of Kansas and had internships at The Kansas City Star and MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @drewdavison

E-mail: ddavison@star-telegram.com

Jimmy Burch is the college sports and golf writer/columnist for the Star-Telegram. He also covers the Dallas Cowboys and other Dallas-Fort Worth pro sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Jimmy_Burch

E-mail: jburch@star-telegram.com

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