IRVING, Texas -- Morris Claiborne made a brief appearance inside the Dallas Cowboys' locker room during the team's recent rookie minicamp. He was drenched in sweat after a workout but quickly smiled and said he was feeling good.
The last time Claiborne was spotted in the locker came late in the 2014 season. He was still on crutches as he was in the early stages of recovering from a torn patella tendon.
As Claiborne has gone about his comeback, he has an example across the locker that he can follow.
"There's no easy way to walk anybody through that process," Williams said. "When I found out he had that injury I just pulled him to the side and let him know that it wasn't going to be easy to come back from, it was going to be tough. It was probably going to be one of the toughest things he's ever been through, especially being a cornerback because when you tear your patellar tendon your quad muscle is basically gone, and when you back pedal, you walk backwards, the muscle that helps you the most is your quad."
Williams said the recovery took a toll on him mentally and physically. He didn't have a player to lean on around him to understand what he was going through.
"Growing up I thought that the worst injury you could have is the ACL," Williams said. "Nah, when you tear that patellar tendon and your kneecap shifts to your thigh, that's something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy."
Williams gave Claiborne his phone number and told him to call whenever he wanted. They have had a few conversations in the locker room as well.
Williams had high expectations when he was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round, but the injury prevented him from reaching that potential. He played in only five games in three seasons and was inactive for every game in 2013.
Claiborne has not lived up to the expectations the Cowboys had for him when they traded up to take him with the sixth overall pick in 2012. Earlier this month the Cowboys declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Claiborne's contract for 2016 but the team has expressed hope that they will be able to get something out of him in 2015.
"It made our relationship stronger because he knows I'm there for him and he knows I'm not going to B.S. him about any of the process," Williams said. "I believe that he'll come back and he believes it at the same time. But how the business is and the things of that sort, sometimes it just doesn't go your way."