IRVING, Texas — After missing all of rookie mini-camp, organized team activities and mini-camp, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne was eager to finally get on the field.
Even though most veterans weren’t in attendance, Wednesday was Claiborne’s first time practicing with some of his teammates. He’s been able to study the playbook and watch from the sidelines but a surgically repaired left wrist has prevented him from participating.
“I feel pretty good with the plays,” Claiborne said. “It’s the conditioning. You can go out and run 1,000 laps but when you come back and play football you’re still not going to be in football shape. So it’s going to take some time to get used to that. We’ve got these three days here so hopefully when everyone reports (Monday) I’ll be good.”
Admittedly, the sixth overall pick in April’s draft felt rusty during his first practice. In punt return action, Claiborne allowed two balls to go through his hands before juggling a third. He also dropped a couple of passes during defensive back drills.
“I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination,” the 22-year-old said. “I know I’ve got some work to do.”
There was some uncertainty about whether Claiborne would be signed by the start of training camp. He and the Cowboys finally agreed on a four-year contract Tuesday.
Baring any setbacks, Claiborne, who was wearing a protective brace on his left wrist, will likely start at the right cornerback position this season.
“I don’t think there was any doubt on either side that he was going to be here for Day One,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Like everybody, he was a little bit rusty. But that is what this time is for.”
“He is a smart guy,” Garrett added. “He understands football. You see that right away. You see that in his interaction with our coaches and players in meetings. It’s fun to see that out there today on the practice field.”