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Don't Expect Jenkins, Claiborne To Compete

By most accounts, Mike Jenkins was the Cowboys' best cornerback last year, even playing through a series of injuries. That didn't stop the Cowboys from trying their best to upgrade the position this offseason.

They made two big splashes, committing $50 million to free agent Brandon Carr - enough to ensure he'll be starting, and trading up eight spots in April to select the draft's top defensive player, Morris Claiborne.

Still, Claiborne is a rookie, and rookies tend to struggle. Plus, he's missing all of Organized Team Activities while recovering from wrist surgery. There's a real possibility that on opening day of training camp - assuming Jenkins is there - the veteran will be a better player than the rookie.

The Cowboys graded Claiborne as the best cornerback prospect since Deion Sanders, however, and that gives defensive coordinator Rob Ryan faith that he'll be a difference-maker from the very beginning.

In other words, Ryan isn't going out of his way to drum up some competition between Jenkins and Claiborne.

"I think everybody earns how many reps they need and their starting spot," Ryan said. "But, obviously, this guy (Claiborne) is a unique talent. We didn't draft him, we didn't move up in the draft, to get a guy that's not going to play. We've got an outstanding guy here. The biggest thing with Mike, he's a fine football player, he's got to get well. To compete with this young man, he's going to have to get better and get healthy, and then go out and play against Morris Claiborne."

In saying that, Ryan still expects Jenkins to do his job.

"Mike's a professional," Ryan said. "He loves his teammates. I think the old line that players are only happy when they're playing - what is that, Fleetwood Mac? That happens, but at the end of the day, players are players, and they want to play.

"When he's ready to play, I'm sure he'll help us."

Ryan should hope so. In Week 1, the Cowboys have to worry about Hakeem Nicks, not Stevie Nicks.

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