IRVING, Texas –It's taken some time for a payoff following the Cowboys' power move up the draft board to select cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Following an offseason spent recovering from wrist surgery, he was finally on the practice field on Wednesday, working with fellow rookies as well as first-year players, those coming off injuries and quarterbacks. There was bound to be some rust, and he admits he isn't at the top of his game just yet, but the sixth-overall pick has finally worked into the mix.
Claiborne, who signed a four-year contract with the Cowboys on Tuesday, said after his first practice that he wouldn't have missed the beginning of training camp for the world.
How does it feel to be practicing with your teammates finally, and how did you perform?
Claiborne:"It feels good. I got out here today, I got my legs back under me – well, I'm trying to get them back under me, and I got a chance to run around a little bit. It was good. Anytime coming off months laid back like that, you're going to have a little rust in there, but so far, so good. I'm not perfect by no stretch of the imagination, but I know I've got some work to do. I feel pretty good with the plays. I know it's just the conditioning. You can go out and run 1,000 laps, but you come back and play football, you're still not going to be in football shape. So, it's going to take some time to get used to that. We've got these three days here, and so hopefully when everyone reports, I'll be good."
How long do you think it will be before you're comfortable playing at this level?
Claiborne:"It'll be soon. I'm comfortable with the defense, and I'm just trying to get my legs back into it so I can just go . . . During OTAs and stuff, I've been out here watching, so I know what the coaches want, I know how they push it, and they push it to the max. I knew it was going to be hard. I knew it was going to be running, running, running."
Have you felt pressure to live up to the team's high expectations right away, and might that have been a promising to be signed and in camp on time?
Claiborne:"I don't put pressure on myself. It's enough of that already, so I try not to put any undue pressure on myself. I just try to go out and keep working. I feel like I've missed enough time already, so the quicker I could have gotten in here, I was looking forward to it."
How anxious were you to get to work?
Claiborne:"I was ready. I woke up early this morning. I was ready to get out here because I missed so much time, and I was just ready to get back into it. I got up around 6 this morning, and I was just lying in the bed because I couldn't sleep. I usually get up a little later than that."
What did you think when the offense tested you with a deep ball on your first rep?
Claiborne:"I figured they were going to come after me. But we did a good job playing it. I got behind on it a little, but the corner from the other side (Teddy Williams) came over and gave me some good help. I knew they were coming. During game time, I know they're coming, and I knew they were coming then."
Was there any discomfort with your wrist?
Claiborne:"Not really. I didn't feel anything. The brace that they got for me is pretty handy, and I didn't feel anything. I'll be in (the brace) the whole season. I've been, during my rehab, getting a little physical with it and just trying to push it."
You fielded some punts in your first workout back – was that difficult to do after being unable to for so long, and do you want to be a part of the return game this year? Claiborne:"Yes sir . . . You've just got to read that ball. That ball will tell you different stories. You've got to just focus and read it, don't worry about the sun and all that, just read it, and it's tricky sometimes."