*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2015 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features cornerback Morris Claiborne. *
Name: Morris Claiborne
Contract Status:Signed through 2015
2014 Impact:Other than Sean Lee there is not a player on this roster that has had to deal with more medical problems than Morris Claiborne. What started out as an award-winning offseason in the strength and conditioning program came to another trip to the injured reserve list. Claiborne lined up for four games, and despite sealing the game, against the Rams with an interception, his play was less than spectacular. There were far too many snaps where he gave up plays, especially on third downs. He struggled to win consistently enough in those snaps, and he was a liability when put in those situations. It even came to the point where the coaches were forced to bench him and from seeing his reactions during our media sessions in the locker room, you could tell that he did not take that well. What we have to realize is that the
way the coaches have handled him here is totally different than what he had experienced in college. Let's also remember that while at LSU he was a confident, healthy and productive football player. While here in Dallas that has been a different story. His lack of health has robbed him of any confidence and edge that he might have. These injuries he has suffered have caused him to continuously have to hit the reset button and start all over again, which has not worked out in his favor. In Claiborne, I don't see a mentally tough player and I feel that affects the way he plays. He becomes far too distracted and that also hurts the way he plays.
Where He Fits: There is a good chance that Claiborne will not be available for the start of the season, and that puts the club in a bind when you talk about available options. He has now gone through two knee surgeries in the last year and that has put him behind, but this is nothing new to him. He has had to deal with a wrist, shoulder and now these knee problems. I believe if he can put all of these issues behind him health-wise, he can help but he is going to have to grow up as well and mature into the player that many of us believed he would have become. This will not be easy for Claiborne to overcome but he really doesn't have much of a choice.
David Helman:Jason Garrett was asked about his cornerbacks this week at the NFL's annual meetings in Phoenix, and he gave a telling answer. Assessing the position, he mentioned his top pair of Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr, he touched on the addition of Corey White and he praised Tyler Patmon's solid rookie season. He didn't mention Morris Claiborne until he was asked, assigning the former top-10 pick afterthought status. We know Claiborne won't be available for the start of the offseason program, and it'd probably be unwise to hope for him to be ready for training camp – or even the start of the season. It's unfortunate and it's not fair, but this is a tough injury to recuperate from. Simply put, I don't think it would be smart or fair to expect much of anything from Claiborne in 2015 – anything he can provide would be a bonus. I won't be surprised if the Cowboys invest an early pick in a cornerback to help offset the issue.