IRVING, Texas -- On the first pass in seven-on-seven drills in Wednesday’s morning practice, wide receiver Tim Benford went deep on cornerback Morris Claiborne.
“I figured they was going to come after me,” said Claiborne, the Cowboys’ first-round pick.
Kyle Orton’s pass dropped through Benford’s arms for an incompletion, but the intended message as received by Claiborne: He better be ready.
“I know they’re coming,” Claiborne said. “During game times I know they’re coming. I knew they were coming then.”
Claiborne made his practice-field debut Wednesday at Valley Ranch after missing the rookie minicamp, organized team activities and June minicamp because of surgery to his left wrist performed before the draft.
He woke up around 6 a.m., which he acknowledged is a lot earlier than normal.
“I was ready to get out here because … I missed so much time and I was just ready to get back into it,” Claiborne said.
During the offseason, Claiborne was able to familiarize himself with the playbook and spent time during walk-throughs shadowing plays to get a better feel.
“It’s hard to estimate how behind he is,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He is rookie trying to play in the NFL. This is his first practice. We had 12 practices in the spring and he missed all of those. He was very engaged in the team. We will practice tomorrow, practice on Friday, then go to camp and start up again on Monday so he will get a lot of work on a short period of time. He is a smart guy. 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.”
Claiborne wore a brace on his wrist that he said he will wear all season, but he felt no problems.
“The brace they got for me is pretty handy and I didn’t feel anything,” Claiborne said.
Claiborne said he knows the defense well enough. Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson spent the bulk of the practice on Claiborne’s side of the field, teaching him the finer points of technique.
“I just know it’s the conditioning,” Claiborne said. “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 got these three days here so hopefully when everyone reports I’ll be good.”