Dallas Cowboys

Rising shutdown cornerback Morris Claiborne ready for next test

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne has been a sure tackler so far this season.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne has been a sure tackler so far this season. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

To say that Morris Claiborne is feeling confident again after his hot start to the season would be an understatement.

Claiborne, who leads all NFL cornerbacks in completion percentage against, likens himself to that little engine that could, starting the season hoping and believing and now is heading downhill with a full steam of confidence.

“Definitely, there is no doubt in my mind,” Claiborne said. “I feel good. I’m happy and ready to play. Either you are going to beat me. I’m going to beat you. My mindset is to win.”

Claiborne has gone from a disappointing former first-round draft pick to the best cornerback on the team and arguably the team’s best defensive player through the first four games of the season.

After more than holding his own against players such as New Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, San Francisco 49ers receiver Torrey Smith and Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffrey, Claiborne next faces Cincinnati Bengals standout A.J. Green.

Green leads the NFL in receptions with 32 catches for 468 yards and two touchdowns.

“He is a hell of a player. You have to know where he is at all times,” Claiborne said. "But I look forward to these match-ups. You have to lineup and play football. No matter who I’m lined up in front of, my job is to stop him from catching the ball. We started with Odell Beckham. Then you go to DeSean Jackson and those types of guys. So it’s going to be a challenge each and every week. I’m ready.”

The Cowboys will have a plan for Green, per defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

Claiborne will get his chances against him, but the Cowboys will also mix coverages and give either Claiborne or Carr some safety help at times.

Marinelli compared Green to former Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson because of his athleticism, size and jumping ability.

“If they throw up to him he can go get it, we have to go fight him,” Marinelli said. “We know we have our hands full.”

But if the Cowboys have anyone who can handle Green, Marinelli is betting on Claiborne.

Marinelli said Claiborne’s shutdown cornerback-like play through the first four games is not a flash in a pan.

“He is got a lot of confidence. You see the interceptions and pass deflections,” Marinelli said. “But it’s the tackling. His tackling has been outstanding. He has tackles for losses. He is a very sure tackler and he is really bringing a physical presence to our secondary.”

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