- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS – A year ago at the NFL scouting combine the Cowboys were in the process of falling in love with cornerback Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys eventually traded up eight spots to the No. 6 overall pick to select Claiborne in April.
Claiborne started 15 games as a rookie and finished with one interception and 64 tackles. He finished second to Brandon Carr in pass deflections with eight.
“Any rookie coming in to play our game at cornerback is going to have growing pains,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Very few step in and play great … I think Mo did a helluva job. I think he’ll only get better, get stronger and understand the game better.”
A big part of Claiborne’s development in his second year will be adding strength. Wrist surgery performed after the combine last year prevented Claiborne from taking part in a full-fledged offseason program.
While the move to the 4-3 will not change much for the secondary, the cornerbacks will be asked to do more in the run game under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.
“If you watched Morris last year he wasn’t afraid to stick his face in there and go tackle people,” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said. “He has to get stronger. There were times where he struggled getting off receivers because he wasn’t strong enough. I think some of that was due to the fact he couldn’t lift all offseason and build upper body strength … That’s one of the things I’m going to talk to him about when he gets back in. We’ve got to get stronger because now we’re going to ask him to do that even more.”