It’s not a coincidence that the recent first-round picks are almost always matched up against each other in the wide receiver/defensive back one-on-one drills. They crave the competition.
“It’s a great battle,” coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s something we really promote. It’s just really good for your football team to see those guys battle, to see them work so hard and just compete against each other. They’re both going to benefit from it and our team will as well.”
Truth be told, Bryant gets the better of the battle on a regular basis. He catches a lot of balls against Claiborne, sometimes in spectacular fashion, such as a diving grab of a deep ball or a leaping catch on a high back-shoulder fade.
It’s a challenge that Claiborne welcomes.
“Man, I love it,” Claiborne said. “I love going against Dez each and every day. He makes me better. Every time I line up in front of him, it feels like it’s something different. It’s really a game rep when you’re going up against him.
“I never get my head down. Going against him, even when I do have good coverage and he catches balls, it motivates me to go a little harder that next time, cover him a little better where there’s none of that. That’s what makes me better.”
Secondary coach Jerome Henderson notes that Claiborne doesn’t necessarily “lose” on a rep just because Bryant catches the ball. It’s a one-on-one drill, but the corners are coached to act as if they’re in game situations, when they’ll have help.
“Don’t get upset because you gave up a completion and the fans are cheering,” Henderson said. “Understand you got beat where you’re supposed to get beat. You’re in the proper position. That’s a win. You did your job.”
Claiborne has made a believer out of Bryant, who boasts: “He is going to mess around and be one of the best corners in this league.”