OXNARD, Calif. – Morris Claiborne got in position, saw Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera coming straight for him, picked him up and dumped him down near the sideline Tuesday.
That play led to a brawl, but it also highlighted a physical side of the young cornerback's game that he's shown before and after a knee injury at camp.
"Really encouraging, and he came back and really is playing the same he played at the outset of camp," Garrett said. "That all goes back to how he prepared in the offseason. Worked as hard as anybody on our football team, was literally at Valley Ranch six days a week and doing everything he could to get himself healthy and also get himself stronger."
Garrett said he can see that translate to his game at practice.
"He's just so much more confident, decisive, physical, ad those are all things he needed to do to get better. We're seeing it every day. It's good to see him back out there showing that same stuff."
When the Cowboys moved up to take Claiborne with the sixth pick in the draft, this is the type of play they expected from him. But Garrett also knew it may take some time for Claiborne to reach his peak.
He also knows he has to show the improvements on Sundays.
"He's playing better than he did in previous years, certainly," Garrett said. "Now, this is a practice setting. He needs to play in the game, too, we get that. But we have high hopes for him. We viewed him as a young player, a guy who really could develop when we drafted him. A lot of traits to be able to play right at the outset, but we saw his ceiling being really, really high. I think we're starting to see a lot of that on the practice field."
Photos from Tuesday's afternoon practice with the Raiders in Oxnard.
Garrett said when he drafts a player, even if the player is drafted high, that guy needs a chance to grow and develop. In the drill against the Raiders, players were instructed to square up the runner and strike. Garrett said sometimes a player will fall down in that scenario, but he's pleased with how Claiborne handled it.
Claiborne said he's just been trying to work his way back into practice and get his legs under him after missing time with knee tendinitis. He missed time late in Wednesday's practice, but it wasn't because of his knee.
The corner fell awkwardly on his shoulder, but it wasn't the one that was surgically repaired and he said he's not concerned at all that it will keep him out. He said it was planned for him to sit out late anyway.
"It wasn't like it came out or anything, it was just one of those freaky lands," Claiborne said. "I just landed on it. It was kind of an awkward land. I felt like he took me down, but I'll leave that for someone else. Just landed on it wrong."
Here's more from Garrett's conference Wednesday morning:
- The start of the preseason opener, Ahmad Dixon's yet to be on the field since his big day after getting treated for concussion-like symptoms. Garrett said he doesn't anticipate Dixon doing much Wednesday, but he does anticipate him practicing Thursday and playing this weekend.
- George Selvie is expected to get more work today in individual drills, and then it'll be determined how much more work he'll get.
- The head coach said Tuesday's practice, despite the brawls, was "fantastic." He described it as electric an atmosphere he's ever been in on a practice field in his life. He thought both teams handled the atmosphere well, and while at times some skirmishes broke out after the whistle, he thought the teams did a good job separating and getting back to work.
- The fights started going near both fences. While the fighting can delay practice, Garrett said players have to defend their teammates at some point and have their teammates' backs. "That's how you build your football team." That said, he said poise is important.
- Garrett was clear about how he felt about fans up against the fence trying to get involved in some of those fights: "We're not for it." [embedded_ad]
- The Cowboys acquired cornerback Justin Green from the Patriots in exchange for defensive tackle Ben Bass. Garrett said the Cowboys needed a corner because of the different situations going on at the position. He expects Green with the team late Wednesday, but he'll miss the scrimmage.
- Garrett said Terrance Williams one of the more unique guys he's been around in terms of his consistency, development, maturity and ability to respond to hard coaching.
- Ronald Leary took the majority of left guard reps Tuesday, but Garrett said it's still a competition between Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau at the position.
- Garrett talked about how there are very few bell cow running backs anymore. He sees DeMarco Murray as a leader of a committee with bell cow traits. He said by committee because he likes the other backs on the roster as well.
- The head coach said Ryan Williams is showing more and more that he's the kind of runner he's been his whole life as situations get more competitive. He's impressed with how hard Williams is working to be a good special teams player.