IRVING, Texas – Running back Ryan Williams knows exactly the challenges Cowboys teammate Mo Claiborne has faced these last eight months.
Williams tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in 2011 preseason with the Arizona Cardinals and missed his entire rookie season. He fully recovered from the devastating injury, generally considered more serious than an ACL tear, but admits it took him close to three years before he felt completely back to normal.
This offseason Claiborne is working back from the same season-ending injury as Williams. The Cowboys are holding him out of team drills in OTAs, but he's going through walkthroughs and some individual work – a good sign of progress in his rehab with the team's athletic training staff.
When Claiborne got hurt last September against the Saints, Williams gave him his phone number and encouraged him to call anytime for advice on the injury and the rehab process.
"When I found out he had that injury, I just pulled him to the side and let him know that it wasn't going to be easy to come back from. It was going to be tough," Williams said two weeks ago. "That's something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It made our relationship stronger because he knows I'm there for him and he knows I'm not going to B.S. him about any of the process. I believe that he'll come back and he believes it at the same time."
Claiborne's ability to return strong would greatly benefit the Cowboys' cornerback depth, and it might allow the club to move first-round pick Byron Jones to safety if he can convince the coaching staff this summer that he's one of its five best defensive backs.
There's no specific timetable for Claiborne to resume full on-field activities, but the Cowboys are encouraged.
"The ability to look at adversity, accept the challenge, embrace the challenge – that's important," head coach Jason Garrett said. "That's a big part of mental toughness, and certainly Mo's demonstrated that in his work up to this point. He got some good work in (this week) in the walkthrough format and we anticipate using him the same way over the next few weeks."