Morris Claiborne was wide awake in bed at 6 a.m. The 1st-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys could not sleep.
Claiborne had been forced to watch and wait in spring work-outs, sidelined because of surgery before the draft to repair ligament damage in his left wrist.
With a $16.4 million, 4-year agreement and his wrist finally healthy, Claiborne was finally on the field with his new team during a practice for rookies and selected veterans. Training camp begins in Oxnard, CA, next week.
”It feels great,” the 22 years old All-American cornerback from LSU related about practicing at Valley Ranch. ”I was ready to get out here.”
Claiborne announced that he needed to practice. He fumbled the ball in a hands drill and stood with his hands on his hips to catch his breath between drills. Dallas traded up 8 spots in April to get Claiborne, who went No. 6 overall.
”Anytime (you’re) coming off months laid back like that you’re going to have a little rust in there, but so far so good,” Claiborne said. ”I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I know I have some work to do. You can go out and run 1,000 laps, and you come back and you’re still not going to be in football shape.”
The 5-foot-11 cornerback spent most of practice working on the right side, which was his 1st field position at LSU. Claiborne sported a brace on his left wrist, which he announced he is going to wear for the entire season. He said he felt no pain during practice.
Claiborne led LSU with 6 interceptions last season and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He had 11 interceptions in 26 games the past 2 seasons. He was also LSU’s top kickoff returner, averaging 25 yards per return including a 99-yard touchdown at West Virginia. Basketball scores
Claiborne is expected to start opposite Brandon Carr after team scouts tabbed him as the best cornerback prospect since Deion Sanders, the Hall of Famer who was an important part of the Dallas Cowboys’ most recent Super Bowl championship in the mid-1990s.
Coach Jason Garrett praised Claiborne’s participation with the team while being totally unable to practice. He said it was too early to tell how far Claiborne will have to come before the season starts.
”He was extraordinarily engaged during the spring,” Garrett declared. ”It’s tough to estimate how behind he is. He’s a rookie making an attempt to play in the NFL and this is his 1st practice. He’ll get a large amount of work in a short period of time. He’s a smart guy. He comprehends football. You can see that right away.”
The Cowboys placed 5 players on the physically unable to perform list on Wednesday: Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hip), who confirmed a 4-year, $11 million agreement as a free agent in the spring, 2012 5th-round pick Danny Coale (left foot), 2012 4th-round pick Matt Johnson (hamstring), veteran cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder) and guard/center Kevin Kowalski (ankle).