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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dallas Cowboys limit injury-prone Morris Claiborne in team OTAs

By on 5/28/2014 06:28:00 PM

The 2014 NFL offseason has not been kind to the Dallas Cowboys. Strapped by a salary cap penalty, they found themselves struggling in free agency and losing a few key defenders.  Before their Organized Team Activities even began, before they lost their starting linebacker Sean Lee to injury, the Cowboys decided to limit third-year cornerback Morris Claiborne to individual drills due to shoulder and pinkie finger surgeries during this offseason, according to NBCSports. Missing the OTAs and time is not new for Claiborne, as he hasn't been healthy since he was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. 

As the Cowboys participated in 11-on-11 team drills during Tuesday’s first day of organized team activities, Claiborne stood by himself off in the distance.  While his teammates competed, Claiborne did conditioning work to the side with other players rehabbing from injuries. The Cowboys have decided to not take any risks with the 24 year-old out of Louisiana State University.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said Claiborne was limited to individual drills because that’s how they treat any player coming off surgery:
He’s done a great job this off-season of coming back.  He looks physically stronger to us. He’s moving around really well. We just want to do the right thing by him as we get going in these OTAs.
Unfortunately for Dallas, this seems all too familiar.  Claiborne missed all of the offseason workouts before his rookie season because he was recovering from surgery on his left wrist. He has missed significant time in both of his training camps because of minor knee injuries, including sitting out the entire 2013 preseason. He has missed games because of a concussion and strained hamstring, and he played hurt all season after dislocating his shoulder in last year’s opener.  Claiborne ended up missing five games in 2013 due to complications with his shoulder yet some say that cornerback Orlando Scandrick took Claiborne’s starting job last season based on performance.

When Claiborne is healthy, he is a catalyst on their defensive side of the field.  In only 25 games he has a career 81 combined tackles, one forced fumble and two interceptions.  Claiborne spoke to reporters on Tuesday about being limited:
I’m feeling better than ever. They’re sitting me out – just a precaution. I can’t control that. Just doing what they ask me to do until I’m free, until they let me loose. You go in every year hoping for a good year and an injury-free year, but it doesn’t play out that way, how you plan it. You just have to go with it. Whatever roadblock is ahead of you, you just got to go with it and find the best way to get through it.
Claiborne said on April 4th that was hoping to be ready for the OTAs and that he was also ready to prove himself to Dallas. He wants to make it clear that it wasn’t a massive mistake to pay such a premium price to move up eight spots in the 2012 NFL Draft for him, rendering the Cowboys to spend their first two picks as one. 

"I’m not frustrated,” Claiborne said. “I’m not frustrated at all. It’s one of those things you can’t control, so all I can do is do what I can, and that’s continue working out, continue getting stronger, doing what’s asked of me.”

Claiborne knows he has the world up against his back and will fight to prove his worth, just as soon as the Cowboys let him get back on the field to practice. 

On Twitter: @alewnes7

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