FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Morris Claiborne has been around good rookies. He played for the Dallas Cowboys last season, so he witnessed the emergence of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Now he belongs to a secondary that includes rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, and Claiborne thinks they can be the defensive version of Dak and Zeke.
"I believe that those two guys (Adams and Maye) can have the type of impact that those guys (Prescott and Elliott) had on the offensive side of the ball," the New York Jets cornerback said Monday.
The Jets drafted Adams and Maye in the first and second round, respectively, thinking they finally had found their long-term answers at a perennially weak position. Adams and Maye won starting jobs in the spring and they became the first rookie safety tandem in league history to start on opening day since the NFL/AFL merger.
"It's not like we have one rookie back there playing with an old vet who can show him the way while he's on the field," Claiborne said. "You have two rookies out there in their first year. To take on the challenges they've taken on this season? The way they're playing? It's unbelievable."
Neither Adams nor Maye has an interception, but they've helped stabilize a secondary that was the weakest unit on the team in 2016. With Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor at safety, and Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine at corner, the Jets allowed 13 pass plays of at least 40 yards.
Now, with Adams, Maye, Claiborne and Skrine, they've surrendered only one in four games.