Morris Claiborne looks to finally put questions about potential to rest

IRVING, Texas -- Morris Claiborne has fielded the same question since his rookie season in 2012: Is this the year he fulfills the potential so many thought he had when the Dallas Cowboys took him with the sixth overall pick?

He played in 15 games as a rookie but had just one interception. In 2013, he missed six games with a hamstring injury and had just one interception. In 2014, he played in just four games because of a torn patellar tendon and had just one interception. He missed five games in 2015 because of hamstring and ankle injuries and did not have an interception.

After the 2014 season, the Cowboys passed on picking up his fifth-year option. He chose to remain with the Cowboys as a free agent this offseason with a one-year deal worth $3 million.

"I'm ready to change it," Claiborne said of the questions that never seem to change.

He is actually tired of having to give the same answers.

"When y'all come talk to me, I want y'all to say, 'Oh, that was a nice pick. Oh, you made this play. How's it feel to be going to the Pro Bowl? How's it feel to be going to the Super Bowl?'" Claiborne said. "Those are the questions I want. I'm ready to take on that task and I know the coaches expect a lot from me. I know I expect a lot from myself. Nothing less. I have some high goals this year, and I'm trying to reach them. I'm going to try to do everything it takes to get there."

Because of the injuries, Claiborne's offseasons have been about rehab and recovery, especially last season. He was kept out of most of the on-field work after tearing the patellar. He hardly had a chance to work on his skills.

"Just being able to go out and stay sticky on the receivers because I had time to actually work on it," Claiborne said. I haven't had any nagging injury, and I actually had time to actually work at the line of scrimmage and work on getting stronger. And that helps a lot."

In 11-on-11 work Wednesday, Claiborne stuck on Terrance Williams' hip on an in cut and was able to break up a Tony Romo pass.

"He looks good," fellow cornerback Brandon Carr said. "He looks confident. He looks smooth out there. He has an extra edge to him this year. He's really honing in on that left side right now. I'm excited for him."

Claiborne has lined up at left cornerback this spring with Carr playing mostly on the right. When both arrived in 2012, Carr played the left side and Claiborne played the right. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said the move doesn't mean much of anything, especially if the Cowboys match up with specific receivers.

When Orlando Scandrick, who did not play last season because of a knee injury, returns to the field full-time for training camp, Claiborne could find himself in a reserve role.

"The more he can practice the better he gets," Marinelli said. "I think it's his time. I think [with] all the work he's doing right now, we'll see."

Cowboys fans have been waiting to see since 2012. So has Claiborne. He has found himself going back to watching his tape from LSU where he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best cornerback. He wants to get that feel back.

"I just need to prove to myself that I can go out and make plays," Claiborne said. "It hasn't happened for me, but I feel like it's going to happen."