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Monday, May 19, 2014
Morris Claiborne aims to bulk up, improve

By Calvin Watkins

While Brandon Carr is talking about taking over the league, Morris Claiborne is still trying to establish himself.

No top draft pick on this current Cowboys roster is under more pressure to perform to expectations than Claiborne.

Claiborne
He was the sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft and was supposed to become a top corner. The Cowboys moved from No. 14 overall to No. 6 in the first round with St. Louis and also gave up a second-round pick, which eventually went to Chicago.

Guess what the Bears did with that second-round pick? They drafted wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

In two NFL seasons, Claiborne has just two interceptions and 14 pass breakups. He's started in 22 of 32 possible games and currently is the Cowboys' nickel corner.

There's nothing wrong with being the nickel corner, but when you're the sixth-overall selection of the draft and team officials say you have the skill set of Deion Sanders, somebody misevaluated Claiborne.

"Obviously when you're drafted that high you want him to be your guy, right, again we hope he becomes that guy," secondary coach Jerome Henderson said of Claiborne. “We hope he becomes that guy; that you look out there no matter what guy it is he’s out there guarding somebody, locking them up."

Henderson said he still believes in Claiborne. This offseason, Claiborne has worked harder to bulk up so he can deal with the physical play in the NFL.

The Cowboys want their corners to be aggressive, jam receivers at the line, and be ready to make good, strong open-field tackles. Claiborne battled numerous injuries in his first two seasons.

During last week's rookie minicamp, Claiborne emerged from the weight room and smiled at a few reporters to say hi. He looked bigger, but whether that translates to more plays on the field is uncertain.

Orlando Scandrick and Carr are the starters at corner. That’s not a bad thing considering both are solid players.

But the Cowboys are looking for more from Claiborne as he enters his third NFL season.

"We expect it out of all of them considering the year we had last year to our defense -- nobody made enough plays," Henderson said. "That’s on all of us not just [Claiborne]. When you look at our defense, we didn't perform at the level we needed to last year. So this year we got to go out and be better at every aspect of the game."