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Monday, September 30, 2013
Morris Claiborne is struggling for Cowboys

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- There were plenty of questions during coach Jason Garrett's news conference on Monday about cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Claiborne
In Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers, an unofficial count had Claiborne allowing four receptions for 84 yards. The four times he was targeted in what was thought to be man coverage, were all completed passes.

Claiborne lost the starting job to Orlando Scandrick because of a shoulder injury, but he's continuing to play through the injury on passing downs and when offenses line up with three receivers.

It seems Claiborne is playing with a lack of confidence and is struggling with his techniques when he faces receivers in tight coverage.

"I think it’s probably a combination," Garrett said. "Technically, you go back at each of the completions against him and you say, 'Hey, you should do this. You should do that.' But I also think confidence, playing that position, is critical. And usually those two things work hand in hand. When you’re playing technically sound and you have ability, you tend to have more and more confidence because you’re in the right place. They went to him too much in this ballgame, and they were too effective. He’s just got to play better, and he will play better."

An NFC personnel man had this to say about Claiborne: "He's a good cover guy with top-flight weight, height and speed to cover, but he gets lost trying to find the ball. He disrupts the ball, but he's not a ball hawk."

The same personnel man said chargers receiver Keenan Allen exposed Claiborne. Allen caught three of his five passes for 80 yards against Claiborne. On Allen's second reception of the game, he adjusted to a deep pass faster than Claiborne did to make a 31-yard reception.

The Cowboys expected more from Claiborne as he enters his second season and considering what the team did, move from No. 14 to No. 6 in draft selections to get him, you might say he's been disappointing.

"It’s a challenging position," Garrett said. "The quarterbacks and receivers in this league are very good. Guys at the college level, they don’t face the expertise or just the level of play, the level of skill that these guys have, so sometimes if you’re a more talented player, you can get away with being a little late to the ball because you can come back. The ball’s not really where it’s supposed to be. But guys in this league throw the ball on time. They throw it where they want to throw it. The route running is good. So technically you just have to be really, really sound to give yourself a chance to succeed out there, because you’re by yourself."