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Aside From Claiborne, The "Other" Rookie Corners Stand Out Too
When it comes to rookie cornerbacks, Morris Claiborne is the one with the reporters swarming him after each and every practice. But two other rookie cornerbacks, Isaac Madison out of Arkansas and Lionel Smith out of Texas A&M, both undrafted free agents, are working hard outside of the spotlight in hopes of making the Cowboys’ roster.
Because of pre-draft wrist surgery to Claiborne and a shoulder injury to Jenkins, both Smith and Madison have gotten more reps than expected so far this summer. Neither player has taken the extra attention for granted.
“You’ve got to take advantage of opportunities,” says Smith. “If you happen to get opportunities to come in then you’ve got to show the coaches what you can do.”
While some players might feel a slight bruise to their ego by being in the shadow of Claiborne’s fame and expectations, Madison sees a great opportunity to be able to focus completely on football.
“I feel like it’s a blessing in disguise. You can’t take anything away from Morris,” says Madison, the former Razorback. “He had a fantastic year at LSU. We played them every year. I want to come in just like he is and grind, try to make a good impression on these coaches and make this team.”
Smith shares similar sentiments: “You can’t focus on the attention not being on you. You have to go out there and make plays and hopefully you catch the attention of the coaches, most importantly.”
As two young players in a very similar yet uncertain situation, Madison and Smith have developed a friendship in order to keep each other positive. Perhaps more importantly, they are trying to make each other better.
“Before practice, sometimes you’ll see me and Lionel come out and work on our foot work and just work with each other to get better,” says Madison.
Smith takes it one step further, “If you watch us on the sideline during practice, every time we’re coming off the field, we’re helping coach each other up and asking questions. He’s become one of my great friends.”
Both players share the long-term goal of landing roster spots with the Cowboys come September, but both understand that it will take constant hard work and improvement to get to that point.
Luckily, they have each other for motivation and support.
“First and foremost, I’m trying to make this team,” claims Madison. “But I want to come out everyday with a positive attitude and get better at one thing at least everyday.”
I’m focusing on getting better everyday,” says Smith. “Of course you want to make this team, that’s the biggest thing, but you can’t come out here and keep worrying about the things you can’t control. You’ve just got to come out here and give your best effort every day.”