Jerry on Claiborne: 'A hard year for him'

MOBILE, Ala. -- Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne had a difficult 2013 season.

The Cowboys expected more from their first-round pick, but injuries and personal issues hampered his season. Claiborne was hoping he'd start the 2013 season off well, but he suffered a shoulder injury in Week 1 and it bothered him most of the season. Then Claiborne missed six total games because of nagging hamstring injury.

On the field, Claiborne had just one interception and was credited with eight pass-breakups in 2013.

Off the field, Claiborne became a dad and lost his father all within days of each other in December.

"A very challenging year," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "From what I know, from his perspective, if you step back from it and look at his age (23) and his personal experience there with the loss of his dad and building a family, on top of dealing with the disappointment with injury, he's a competitor. You put all that together and it was a hard year for him."

The Cowboys traded up in the 2012 draft to No. 6 overall to snag Claiborne, and the results haven't benefited them as yet. He lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick and moved into the nickle corner spot. With the Cowboys playing plenty of nickle defense in 2013, it wasn't deemed a demotion. However, more plays on the ball are expected from Claiborne moving forward.

During the season, Claiborne said he wanted the Cowboys to play more man-to-man coverage, something he was used to doing in college and in his rookie season, which also could be described as a disappointment.

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin employed more man coverage as the season progressed, but the injuries, especially a nagging hamstring problem that didn't leave him alone, was just one of the problems he faced last season.

Brandon Carr and Scandrick are the projected starters at cornerback again, with Claiborne being the nickle guy. But if the Cowboys draft another cornerback, it will be interesting to see the competition for the No. 3 cornerback spot in 2014.