Dallas Cowboys

Claiborne credits year away from football for resurgence

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne is playing with renewed confidence this season.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne is playing with renewed confidence this season. AP

Things still aren’t perfect for Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne.

He is still battling knee soreness and he dropped a potential-game changing interception in Sunday’s 39-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

But props are due for the former 2012 sixth overall pick in the 2012, who to this point in his career has been labeled as one of biggest draft busts in team history.

The former LSU standout is not only playing the best football of his career, but he has been the best team’s cornerback through the first three games of the season.

“I feel good. There is no way around it, nothing else to say,” Claiborne said. “I feel better than I have in a long time. I’m just going out and playing.

“No matter who is in front of me, I have a job to do. I know the team is depending on me to go do my part. My confidence level is high.”

Per the Cowboys coaches and owner Jerry Jones, it was Claiborne who defended Falcons receiver Julio Jones better than any of the Cowboys’ cornerbacks. He missed out on a potential signature play in the first quarter when he jumped a slant pass intended for Jones, but dropped a likely-game changing interception.

Still has play has not gone unnoticed by the Cowboys.

Jerry Jones said he had a recent conversation with LSU coach Les Miles about another cornerback and Miles remarked “He is no Mo Claiborne.”

“It makes you wonder ‘we got Mo Claiborne, we paid an arm and a leg to get him, how in the world is he not helping us win football games’,” Jones said on his radio show on 105.3 FM The Fan Tuesday. “He’s an outstanding player. I think we are starting to see a little of it.”

What makes Claiborne resurgence even more notable that comes one year after missing the majority of last season with a torn patella tendon in his left knee

Ironically, it was that time away that proved to be the turning point for Claiborne.

While working every day to get healthy and get stronger, he also learned how to truly study the game from a technical standpoint for the first time.

Claiborne is mentally stronger than in the past. He doesn’t let bad plays fester anymore.

The Cowboys play at New Orleans. Claiborne, who is in the final year of his contract, grew up in Shreveport.

“It's pretty much a home game for me,” Claiborne said. “A lot of family will be there. I'm excited and looking forward to it.”

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr