IRVING, Texas – Morris Claiborne has already moved past his five-penalty performance last Sunday.
The Eagles wide receivers troubled the rookie cornerback, but he hasn't let those struggles weigh on his mind in the new week.
"I've always been like that since college," Claiborne said. "I've been told that you've got to have a smart mindset when you play corner. You've got to have amnesia with everything. You've got to let it go, no matter if it's a good play or bad play. I've learned that through the years. Things are going to happen."
While he may have kept that demeanor since college, he admitted he's never had a performance at LSU quite like his rough day Sunday. Claiborne had committed only three penalties prior to the Week 10 matchup in Philadelphia, when he was flagged twice for holding, twice for offsides and once for pass interference.
But apart from a couple of corrections, nothing major has changed for Claiborne. He said he was usually in good position; he just grabbed the opposing receivers when he shouldn't have. Claiborne hopes Cleveland's Brandon Weeden and the rest of the quarterbacks he faces this year will look at that performance and assume they can throw the football his way more often.
"I feel it as a blessing for me," Claiborne said. "We got out of there with a win, out of all the things that were happening. Next week I know guys will come out they're going to be like, 'Just throw it up there, either we're going to catch it or get a penalty.' That's why I have to play smart and go up and attack the ball."
It's rare for a rookie cornerback to understand and accept that mistakes are going to happen. Head coach Jason Garrett could tell from Claiborne's body language that his latest performance didn't sink his spirits.
"He kept battling, and that's one of the things everyone at LSU told us about him," Garrett said. "Playing that position is difficult. You're not going to have success every time, and so your mental toughness is critical. They're going to complete balls on you. You've got to keep coming back, and I thought he did a good job trying to battle in the ball game and then afterward he said, 'Hey, I'm going to learn from this day. I made a lot of mistakes, but I'm going to watch that tape and I'm going to get better,' and that's been his demeanor the last couple of days."
Fellow cornerback Brandon Carr said after the game that Claiborne has responded well, considering the type of pressure that exists for a rookie in the NFL, especially one playing for the Cowboys. He said he's proud of the way Claiborne has grown as a player and a person in the past year, and he expects the defensive backs to get everything in order for the remainder of the season.
Claiborne is not accustomed to particularly poor play this year, especially after stacking a few solid games together. Over three consecutive weeks, he recovered a fumble against Baltimore, earned the secondary's first interception against Carolina, and held Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks to 46 yards.
The last couple of Sundays, most notably his performance against Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, weren't quite as successful. He's watched the film, but he's not going to beat himself up over it. Claiborne remained cheery enough earlier this week to tease himself about the penalties he committed.
"I was joking with some of the guys today about it, just like, 'Hey, don't mess with me, I've got five penalties,'" Claiborne said. "Never try to think about it. Just let it go, man. Ain't nothing you can do about it. It's in the past."
That's not to say Claiborne doesn't care about how he played last weekend. He admitted he was frustrated all game, particularly on the penalty that negated an interception from Anthony Spencer. He was flagged for holding on the other side of the field, which he felt was an unnecessary call.
But he knows he can't think about any play in the past. That's too dangerous as a cornerback in the NFL.
"I'm always trying to look at the positive things if something bad happens," Claiborne said. "I'm always trying to look forward and trying to find another way. I'll be thinking how I can make a play to make other people forget it, because I forgot it. I know you guys aren't going to forget it. I just try to think, let me make a play. Once you start making plays, all that's erased."