Morris Claiborne made a game-sealing interception late in Sunday’s game, but that might not be enough to keep him from being benched.
Claiborne was exposed for most of the game, with the St. Louis Rams continually throwing the ball his direction with success. He gave up a 51-yard touchdown pass to Brian Quick, a 38-yard completion to Kenny Britt, and another 4-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis.
Asked if the team would consider benching Claiborne, coach Jason Garrett said: “We’ll determine how we’re going to play guys as the week goes on.”
That’s a telling statement from Garrett, as he didn’t immediately come to Claiborne’s defense. Garrett is a believer that performance should outweigh anything else, including draft status and potential.
“It really doesn’t matter where guys come from,” Garrett said. “We’ll evaluate them and see who can play best.”
The Cowboys have been reluctant to give up on Claiborne after trading up in the 2012 draft to take him sixth overall, but his chances appear to be running out.
Orlando Scandrick returned from a two-game league suspension on Sunday, and Sterling Moore has proven to be a capable corner in his limited time, particularly in nickel packages.
Claiborne admitted he “stunk it up” for the most part, giving up five catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns, according to ProFootballFocus.com. However, Claiborne said he remained confident and Garrett agreed with him, to an extent.
“There are probably degrees of confidence,” Garrett said. “You can feel a certain level of confidence that allows you to play, but then when you’re really playing your best football, intuitively you know you have that much more confidence. You just know what you’re doing, what your technique is, what you think they’re going to do, how you’re going to be able to attack it.
“[In Claiborne] I don’t see a player who is playing without confidence, but I know when you play well, your confidence grows.”
DeMarco Murray has lost a fumble in each of the first three games and it’s something that must be resolved. Murray knows it and so do the Cowboys.
Garrett said it will be emphasized even more this week in a variety of ways, although the team doesn’t want Murray to change his running style too much.
“Ball security is line 1 — you have to take care of the football,” Garrett said. “Having said that, these guys are runners and they need to be able to run as naturally as possible.
“I’ve seen this happen before with players; just rededicate yourself, refocusing on it to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Murray hasn’t had a fumbling problem in the past, losing only three fumbles in his first three seasons.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer (microfracture surgery on left knee) and linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) could return this week and play in Sunday’s game. So could linebacker Justin Durant (groin).
Those three would be nice additions to a defense that has exceeded expectations to this point.
Spencer has been out since Week 2 of last season, but hopes to practice Thursday or Friday. McClain and Durant remain day-to-day, Garrett said.
The Cowboys might be without defensive tackle Henry Melton, who strained a hamstring during Sunday’s game. His status is unknown at this point.
• Garrett on tight end Jason Witten: “He’s the most complete tight end in football and has been for the last 10 years. He’s willing to block from the line of scrimmage as a move guy, in the backfield, run any kind of route you ask him to run, do anything you ask him to do. It’s all for the team, all as well as he can do it.”
• The Cowboys waived linebacker Keith Smith on Monday and are expected to re-sign defensive end Lavar Edwards.