IRVING, Texas — The harshest criticism Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne receives likely comes from himself. Throughout his rookie season, the former sixth overall draft pick rarely sounded pleased with his performance after games.
On Tuesday, he gave his rookie year a C-minus grade.
Claiborne started 15 games in 2012, missing one because of a concussion. He intercepted one pass, deflected eight more, returned a fumble for a touchdown and totaled 55 tackles.
But the LSU product says expect bigger things from him in Year Two.
“I expect a great big jump for myself,” Claiborne said. “I expect to go out and play way different than what I did last year.”
His path to playing different has included cutting out fast food and late night eating while increasing his time lifting weights. Claiborne said he has even converted a room in his home to a weight room.
The results have been noticeably bigger arms and four additional pounds of muscle. And while bulking up was something the Cowboys wanted him to do to be better prepared for Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-Two scheme, Claiborne says they didn’t need to say a word.
“Before they even came out with that, I felt that I needed to do it to help my game as well,” he said. “I felt a little bit last year like I was losing receivers at the top of the break and not being in front of them enough at the line of scrimmage. That was a big emphasis that I wanted to do in the offseason.”
Claiborne said his increased reps of bench press, curls and power clean have led to him being more confident at the line of scrimmage, something that has allowed him to see “a big difference” in his game.
Claiborne’s desire to being strong at the top of the receivers break was on display late in Tuesday’s organized team activities at Valley Ranch. As Dez Bryant got off the line and turned to receive a pass, Claiborne was right there, knocking Bryant to the ground and sending the star receiver off to the sidelines grabbing his ribs. Bryant later said he was just experiencing cramps from the 80-degree weather.
“Me and Dez were talking about it earlier, being strong at the top of that break,” Claiborne said. “Me and him had a similar thing today and we were talking about it. That was one of the things I put a big emphasis on.”