IRVING, Texas – Former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson doesn't doubt Morris Claiborne's talent. He's just concerned the young corner won't be healthy enough to develop it all.
Woodson talked Wednesday at the Cowboys' kickoff luncheon about a variety of topics, but spoke for a while regarding Claiborne's durability at this point in his career. Claiborne has been out this preseason with a lingering knee injury that was initially thought to keep him out a few days at most.
"Durability is one of the concerns for Claiborne," Woodson said. "It's just, you know athletically what this kid can do. He's one of those guys that's so gifted at the cornerback position. You can always determine if it's a great cornerback or an average cornerback when the ball's in the air. If the ball's in the air and there's fear in his eyes, then that's an average cornerback. Claiborne is not afraid when the ball's in the air. He will make a play on that football. He doesn't care at all if he has to take a risk and go up and get it. I see that side of him, that athletic side of him.
"I just need to see more of the toughness side of him, coming up, especially in that Cover 2 scheme, when it's the corners and the linebackers who have to come up and make tackles. We'll see if he's one of those guys who can come up and make some tackles."
Do you worry about Claiborne missing this time?
Woodson: "I'm a little concerned about the start of the season with him if he has to knock off some rust, but as a whole, Barry Church is a guy that's really stepped up this year. I think the other safety position, the free safety position, is a concern."
Stephen Jones talked about how the team has the "secret sauce" this year. What are the ingredients for the Cowboys to win late in the season?
Woodson: "You have to win in the trenches. That's the sauce. You can say what we want to say about Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and Miles Austin and (Tony) Romo, but if you're not winning in the trenches, you're not winning a championship. At some point, they're going to have to ball up a little bit and ball their fists, and Jay Ratliff's going to have to get healthy, and DeMarcus Ware's going to have to be ready to play, but they're going to have to win in the trenches for them to win football games, and it starts on the offensive line and leads onto the defensive side of the ball."
What do you have to do to get in the Ring of Honor?
Woodson: "I'd love to be in it. I don't want to be on crutches and my son pushing me up on the stage to get up there, but I don't know. That's on Jerry and those guys to make that decision. I can't control that."