DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
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Claiborne Says Eagles Have No Choice But To Test Him Again
IRVING, Texas – Morris Claiborne doesn’t need to look back far to remember what happened the last time he played Philadelphia.
The rookie cornerback has threaded together solid performances throughout the season, but he’s also had hiccups, including the last time the Cowboys played the Eagles in Week 10 when Claiborne was flagged five times for defensive penalties.
“I haven’t been looking toward it, but as I was sitting outside, I was thinking about it,” Claiborne said. “I know the penalties that I had that week. I know they don’t have any choice but to come try me. If I was on the opposing team, I’d try me. I just have to prepare myself and get ready for it.”
Claiborne, the third-most penalized player on the team, absorbed more than half of his season’s penalties in that game alone. The defense eventually pulled out the win with a barrage of fourth-quarter points off turnovers.
Most of his penalties occurred while facing wide receiver Riley Cooper, who could have a more prominent role this week with DeSean Jackson sidelined for the rest of the year.
But Claiborne’s ready for the challenge and said doubt hasn’t crept into his mind or anybody’s mind on the defense, despite dealing with a bevy of injuries. He said his coaches do well reeling in players off the street to contribute. If a player is in the game on defense, Claiborne counts on him to get the job done.
“I feel like this defense has no doubt in our ability to go out and play,” Claiborne said. “We know what we can do. We just try to go out and put it on the field.”
The defensive backs struggled mightily against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ passing attack, but the major defensive lapses weren’t Claiborne’s fault.
The rookie said he feels like his production has increased since the first meeting with the Eagles, when cornerback Mike Jenkins was injured. Head coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan couldn’t spell Claiborne that week, who was forced to endure the struggles and keep battling.
Jenkins should be ready to roll this Sunday after overcoming back spasms to play on Thanksgiving. He’s more accustomed to playing on the outside, but the Cowboys used him against the slot receiver last week after Orlando Scandrick got hurt. He may need to get used to that spot if Scandrick is out for an extended period of time.
“I don’t want to make any determinations now, but (Jenkins) certainly has as much experience as anybody on our roster playing in there,” Garrett said. “We’ve played him in defensive packages up to this point when everybody’s been healthy because of the kind of player that we think he is. He’s been out a couple of weeks. He’s healthier. He’ll certainly have a role on defense.”