Morris Claiborne back with Cowboys

ByTim MacMahon ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

IRVING, Texas -- A day after his hasty departure from the team's training facility, demoted Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne expressed regret but said he felt like he needed to leave to keep the situation from escalating.

Claiborne left Tuesday after being informed that Orlando Scandrick would return to the starting lineup for Sunday night's game against the New Orleans Saints. Claiborne skipped the team's walk-through practice and meetings.

"I didn't leave from no stretch of the imagination from them telling me that Orlando was back," said Claiborne, who attended meetings and practiced Wednesday. "That wasn't the reason why I left. The reason why I left was how something was brought to me and how it was presented to me. I felt myself at a place where I had to just leave the facility at that moment.

"I'm pretty sure everybody has been in that, got in that where they had to just leave. They had to remove themselves from what was going on at that time. I was ready for whatever fines or anything that came with that. I felt like if I stayed, who knows what would happen? I felt like the best thing for me was to leave."

Claiborne, who declined to elaborate on how the decision was presented to him, returned to the Valley Ranch facility to meet with coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday night. Claiborne apologized to his teammates before the Wednesday morning meetings.

Garrett said Claiborne would be disciplined internally but will face the Saints. Claiborne said he has yet to be informed of the disciplinary measures.

"I think he understood that he made a mistake," Garrett said. "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, and he had a chance to kind of collect himself. He came by last night and we addressed it, and we addressed it head-on. He's back in here this morning and ready to go to work."

Claiborne has consistently struggled since the Cowboys selected him sixth overall in the 2012 draft, packaging their top two picks to move up eight spots to get him. He had a particularly poor performance in Sunday's win against the St. Louis Rams despite making a leaping interception to seal the victory, allowing five catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns and being called for a defensive holding penalty.

After the game, Claiborne admitted he "stunk it up." However, he still believes that he deserves to start.

"I'm not going to sit here and say, 'No, I don't deserve to start,' because I know I deserve to start," he said. "But that's not what the coaches said. At the end of the day, those guys have the last decision on what's going to be done, and it is what it is."

The coaches originally promoted Scandrick over Claiborne after the 2013 season opener. Scandrick, a seventh-year veteran who has been primarily a nickel corner throughout his career, responded by having his best season.

Claiborne temporarily regained the starting job while Scandrick served a league suspension during the first two games of this season. The two corners split snaps Sunday, and the decision was made after the film review for Scandrick to be the full-time starter again.

"I always wanted to do everything in my power to help this team," Scandrick said. "That's the role that Coach Garrett has placed me in, and it's my job to keep myself in that role by performing."

Garrett said Claiborne would be in a "competitive situation" for the Cowboys' third cornerback role this week. Sterling Moore is an option to play with Scandrick and Brandon Carr in the nickel package, but Claiborne believes that he will have that job.

"The situation is resolved," Claiborne said. "I'm going to play a hell of a lot of plays for this team. I'm going to play a big role on this team in this game and games to come down the road.

"I'm a grown man. I'm here to stand up and fill the shoes that I need to fill and do whatever I need to do for this team. When my number's called, I'm going to be there and I'm going to be there to give 100 percent, no matter what the situation is."

Related Video