Stop if you have heard this before.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne is ready to live up to the expectations placed on him when the Dallas Cowboys moved up eight spots to take him with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
After three largely disappointing and injury-plagued seasons, Claiborne means it this time.
“Y’all will see,” said Claiborne, who has missed 19 games in his career and has only three career interceptions. “I feel good. I feel real good. I’m just ready to play.… I hear a lot of stuff. I hear what people say. I see what people write, and I know that’s not me. I just want to show them.”
The former LSU star made those comments on the final day of the team’s mandatory minicamp in which he only did individual drills. He has not been fully cleared for action after finishing last season on injured reserve with a torn left patella tendon.
The good news is that Claiborne is a month and a half ahead of schedule in his rehab and should be ready for full contact when the team reports for training camp July 28 in Oxnard, Calif.
Owner Jerry Jones said he feels good about Claiborne’s chances of not only being ready for training camp, but finally living up to expectations.
It’s also not lost on Claiborne that the Cowboys failed to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, making him a free agent after the season.
“I wasn’t expecting for that to happen,” Claiborne said. “Why would you put so much in a person that you don’t know where he’ll be standing? If I was on the other side, I wouldn’t have done that. It’s just one of those things. It’s a business. I approach it that way.
“I’ve got to go put in some work. I’ve got to go make somebody want me. I don’t want nothing to be just given to me.”
Others in the Cowboys’ organization are taking a wait and see approach on Claiborne. While they still believe in his abilities, they have yet to see him stay healthy enough to realize his potential.
“He is moving well. He is moving real well,” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said. “You just hope that once we put the pads on that he can sustain that and stay healthy.”
Henderson later added: “We drafted Mo where we drafted him for a reason: because he is an elite guy. We are hopeful he can come out and show the world what he can do.”
Claiborne has been emboldened by how he has returned stronger and ahead of schedule from what was a knee injury that sometimes requires two years to recover.
Claiborne got as light as 150 pounds after the injury. He is back up to 172 and working to get back to his playing weight of 180 by training camp.
He said he feels better and stronger than he has at any point since he’s been with the Cowboys.
“It feels good to come where I come from and to feel the way I have been feeling,” Claiborne said. “I’m ready to go. Period. Point blank.”
Claiborne said the Cowboys athletic trainers want him to take some time off before training camp, but he can’t stop working because his goal is to be ready for a full season.
“I don’t feel comfortable not working,” Claiborne said. “I feel if you want something you’ve never had you have to do something you’ve never done. That’s my mindset right now.
“I will do anything right now to get back to where I was and past that. I want to play and stay on the field. The focus is simple: Go play football no matter what.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr.