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Mailbag: Why The Struggles For Claiborne Early On?


From what I was reading in the preseason, it seemed like Morris Claiborne was doing well in practice. During the first two games he's struggled. Why is that, you think?

Bryan: Claiborne was making strides in practice. He physically looked good and that beaten up player that we saw in 2013 appeared to be in his review mirror. His confidence was up and there was a swagger in the way that he was approaching his job. Claiborne was battling his rear off each day but then he injuries his shoulder against the Raiders and all those old questions once again are dug up. He misses practices which leads to games and the uncertainty returns. I believe the biggest problem with Morris Claiborne is between his ears. He doesn't have short term memory and any confidence he has is fleeting compared to the burden he carries when he makes a mistake. Instead of being a mentally tough player he is cautious and timed which for a cornerback at any level is a bad combination.    

Rowan: I think Claiborne's lack of offseason and preseason work throughout his career from injuries has really hurt him. That lack of work has forced him into important situations without the reps many others have gotten, and I think it's hurt his confidence. At camp, he played confidently and boisterously and physically. There were times he got beat, but it was followed by confident play and solid play. He hasn't played with that confidence since. I think it starts with the injuries, which make him physically uncertain. That leads to some poor plays, which make him mentally uncertain. Most of it is about a lack of confidence, I believe.

So three games in and we have almost no pass rush being generated by the 'rushmen'. I appreciate we have Spencer in the wings but he's as much an unknown as Michael Sam. So when does Sam get a chance to improve things?

Bryan:Sam will get an opportunity to play in this defensive line rotation when Rod Marinelli, Leon Lett and Ben Bloom feel like he has a full tool belt to play defensive end in this league. To put him out there right now without the proper training [embedded_ad] would be a huge mistake. Sam has done a nice job of convincing these coaches that he could actually one day play in this league, where there was a time where that wasn't the case at all. Let Spencer see what he can do first and even look to getting DeMarcus Lawrence ready as well but take your time with Michael Sam until he is ready.

Rowan: While Spencer may be as much as an unknown as Sam coming off the injury he had, Spencer's at least proven before that he can play at a high level. At this point, with the lack of a four-man rush, I understand your point though. I'm all for giving Sam a shot, although it's probably difficult for him to prove in practice just how much he can do at his position. Consider that his job at practice is to help the players on the active roster prepare. That means mimicking opponents and moving all over the field, even to the offensive side of the ball, to make that happen. Because of that, it may be difficult to show everything he's got full speed as a pass rusher.

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