IRVING, Texas -- When Morris Claiborne walked to the locker room before the second quarter ended in Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a hamstring injury, the Dallas Cowboys had a decision to make.
Keep Byron Jones at safety or move him to outside cornerback.
They chose the latter, even though Jones had not played outside since training camp.
“Obviously the coaches had confidence in me to go out and play," Jones said. "So you just have to go think to yourself, ‘Go play ball. Know your press technique. Play ball.’”
With Jones at cornerback, J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath split time at safety opposite Barry Church. When the Cowboys went to the nickel defense, they put Tyler Patmon in the slot. When they went dime, they had Heath play inside. The Cowboys had Brandon Carr follow Mike Evans (eight catches, 126 yards) once Claiborne went down.
Jones had just two tackles, according to the press-box stats. He had a pass breakup in the first half at safety, although he thought he should have had an interception of Jameis Winston.
“Hard to tell,” Jones said when asked how he thought he played. “Played a lot of positions. I think I should’ve had that interception as a safety. Just trying to find ways to take the ball away. We did a better job this week than the past, but there’s more opportunities out there for us.”
Claiborne was not sure if his hamstring injury would keep him out long, but he took the fact that he could not return as a bad sign for his availability this week against the Miami Dolphins. He said he would have an MRI on Monday.
If he can’t play, then the Cowboys might stick with Jones at corner for good.
When he was picked in the first round, the Cowboys loved Jones’ versatility. Now they need him to be versatile.