- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Morris Claiborne has been unable to practice with his new team because he's recovering from wrist surgery. But that's not to say Claiborne hasn't been as active a participant in the offseason program as he's able to be.
Here's a look from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at what Claiborne has been able to do during OTAs and minicamp, which is intense classroom work and shadowing his position on the field. You don't need your wrist to run and chase receivers, after all, so there's plenty Claiborne can learn about the defense even as he's unable to make plays on the ball. Here's a very long Jason Garrett quote about it:
"He's clearly a guy who has a good understanding of football," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We use the expression 'football IQ.' Everything we heard from the people at LSU who were around him for three years said he was very natural that way. We've given him a lot of stuff. It's particularly difficult for him because he is hearing the stuff, but he's not getting to do it. But he's handling it well. We'll see when he gets out there practicing, when the bullets are really flying, how well he handles it. But he hangs in there mentally, and I think that has a lot to do with just his understanding of the game. That’s football IQ."
You don't trade your first two draft picks for a guy if you don't think highly of his football IQ, and as much as the Cowboys would like to see Claiborne on the field, at least his injury isn't one that limits his ability to run or stay in shape. Once he's able to go, he should be able to go full-speed. In the meantime, they're finding ways for him to learn and get up to speed as quickly as possible.
This is kind of what I was talking about in Wednesday's Blogger Blitz video -- that the circumstances surrounding Claiborne and Mike Jenkins create a situation that the Cowboys' coaches need to manage properly if they're to get the most out of their new cornerback mix. Brandon Carr seems to be doing great, by all accounts, but these other two guys are big pieces. And while Jenkins seems to be making things as difficult as possible, at least they feel as though they have Claiborne pointed in the right direction.