IRVING, Texas – Morris Claiborne has returned to the Dallas Cowboys following a brief and unexcused absence Tuesday night – a result of a demotion following Sunday’s win against St. Louis.
“We informed Mo yesterday that his role was going to change, and he didn’t take that news very well – by his own admission,” said Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “He left the building and didn’t participate in the meetings and short walkthrough that we have on Tuesdays.”
Reports surfaced Tuesday evening that Claiborne had left the team facility after learning that he would be replaced in the starting lineup by Orlando Scandrick. Garrett confirmed those reports, but he also added that Claiborne returned to the building Tuesday night after the outburst.
“He did come back to the building last night. He and I visited, and he was here early this morning and has been going through everything,” Garrett said. “We’re going to discipline him. We’ll keep how we’re disciplining him in-house, but we’ll move forward. It’s behind us.”
Claiborne struggled in coverage throughout the Cowboys’ 34-31 win against the Rams, despite the fact that he came down with a game-clinching interception of Austin Davis. He manned the starting cornerback spot opposite Brandon Carr largely because Orlando Scandrick was suspended for the first two weeks of the season.
Given Scandrick’s stronger play in his first game back, Garrett said the coaching staff felt the move was merited.
“It’s our job to try to play the best players, and we’ll do that at every position. Orlando Scandrick came back last week and after three days of practice played 51 snaps in the game,” he said. “We just felt like, when we evaluated his performance, relative to Mo’s, we felt like he deserved the opportunity to start that cornerback position.”
Despite his sudden departure, Garrett said the Cowboys plan for Claiborne to play on Sunday night against the Saints. He didn’t clarify what his role would be – whether at nickelback or situational opportunities.
“We’ll determine what everyone’s role is as we go forward,” he said. “He’ll certainly be in a competitive situation for that role.”
The decision to sit Claiborne in favor of Scandrick came several hours after Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in a radio interview that Claiborne had not lived up to his lofty draft status. The Cowboys traded up from No. 14 overall to No. 6 in the 2012 NFL Draft to take Claiborne.
“We’re not giving up on him at all. Is he what we had hoped for at this point when we drafted him with the sixth pick, gave up a pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No. But he’s going to be a good player,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning.
Garrett said Claiborne was contrite when he returned to Valley Ranch following the outburst, and that his behavior in the situation was out of character. He also added that Claiborne addressed the team during the Cowboys’ Wednesday meeting – though he didn’t divulge what was said.
“He understood that he made a mistake. Guys are competitors. When they hear news that doesn’t go their way, different guys react different ways. He obviously knew that he didn’t react the right way,” Garrett said. “He had a chance to collect himself, he came by last night, and we addressed it – we addressed it head-on. He’s back in here this morning and ready to work.”
One of the main talking points coming out of the St. Louis game was that Claiborne rallied from a difficult day and made a game-changing play despite his struggles against the Rams. That wasn’t lost on Garrett, and he said he mentioned that to the third-year player.
“Clearly he wants to play, he wants to compete, he wants to be a part of it – but we’re going to allow him to compete. He didn’t handle yesterday well,” Garrett said. “We know that, he knows that, and now we’ve moved on.”
Team response and player comments …
Jason Garrett Wednesday Press Conference: Mo’s departure; Romo’s day off | Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks with the media prior to today’s (Wednesday) morning practice at Valley Ranch. (Watch | Listen)
Orlando Scandrick: I Know What It Feels Like To Be Benched | Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick talks about what it’s like to compete with your teammates, and sometimes your friends, and what it can feel like when you lose that competition. (Watch | Listen)
Media and Fans reaction …