FRISCO, Texas – Don't look for Morris Claiborne in Philadelphia this weekend, but there's plenty of reason for optimism that he could make his long-awaited return for the playoffs.
It's been two months since Claiborne injured his groin back on Oct. 30, in the waning seconds of the Cowboys' first game against the Eagles. However fitting it might have been for him to make his return for the rematch, he's not quite ready yet – though that's not necessarily concerning.
"The timetable for the injury at the outset was, we felt like it was going to take this long," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "He's worked very hard each day and each week to come back and get better and better."
Claiborne has started the process of working his way back in recent weeks, as he's been undergoing rehabilitation on the injury. He underwent a workout with the strength and conditioning staff during Wednesday's walkthrough.
That's not quite the same as going through a practice, but it's still an encouraging development.
"We did a lot yesterday, and I came back today and it responded pretty good so we did a lot more today," Claiborne said. "That's two good work days, and we can add stuff on top of it. It's still holding up pretty good."
That's an improvement from last week, when Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Claiborne was feeling some soreness following a conditioning session. Despite that, Claiborne said he's responded well to the work he's done so far this week.
"Last week we stepped it up, and I kind of had a step back because I was really sore at the end of the week," he said. "But we picked it back up this week, doing the same things. There's no soreness right now, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
The ultimate goal is for Claiborne to make a healthy return in time for the Cowboys' divisional playoff game, which will take place either Jan. 14 or Jan. 15. That's still more than two weeks away, which gives him plenty of recovery time before the Cowboys make their playoff debut.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back on the field, looking forward to going back out there with my guys and making this run for the Super Bowl," Claiborne said.
It's been a trying wait for the fifth-year veteran, given that he was on his way to a career season before the injury. Through seven games this year, Claiborne had 26 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, as well as another five pass breakups.
Even having spent eight games on the sideline, though, Claiborne said he's confident he can pick up where he left off.
"I feel like I'll be alright," he said. "I just feel like I'll be alright – I can't tell you why. I've just got that feeling."