Cowboys Cornered: Where'd Mo Go?

IRVING - Mo Claiborne admitted to me that even after his game-sealing interception in St. Louis, 'I stunk it up out there.' So it didn't seem the Cowboys struggling corner had lost perspective - until Tuesday, when he responded angrily and foolishly to having lost his job.

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Cornerback Morris Claiborne demonstrated a complete understanding of how poorly he played in the 34-31 comeback win in St. Louis ... but lost that understanding upon learning he is being benched by the Dallas Cowboys in favor of Orlando Scandrick.

Claiborne, the sixth-overall pick in the 2012 Draft, has struggled to live up to that billing. The Cowboys on Tuesday even began the public process of lowering the bar, owner Jerry Jones telling 105.3 The Fan, "Is he what we had hoped for at this point when we drafted him with the sixth overall pick, giving up the (second-round) pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No ... But he's going to be a good player."

But on Tuesday, as first noted by ESPN, Claiborne wasn't a player at all, angrily ditching at least part of the team's light work day and unhappily leaving the club's Valley Ranch headquarters.

The reason for Claiborne's disgruntlement? The decision -- an obvious and correct one -- to elevate Orlando Scandrick above him on the depth chart.

During the course of all last season and this year's training camp, too, Scandrick has been among Dallas' top defensive players. Claiborne has not. In addition to injury woes, he battles with technique and confidence, and in my discussions with him on these subjects, I've given him credit for dealing with them straightforwardly.

Here, listen for yourself, our conversation with Mo in the locker room in St. Louis. I contend he fully gets what's going on here ...

"Not in my eyes," Claiborne said, when asked if his win-sealing interception against the Rams meant the final-minute heroics offset 59 minutes of failure. "It seemed to do that with everybody else. Not in my eyes.''
But it didn't erase the failures in the coaches' eyes, obviously, and suddenly, in this case, Claiborne appears to not be dealing with the challenge straightforwardly, appears to not recognize on Tuesday what he acknowledged on Sunday: that he was an easy mark for St. Louis third-string quarterback Austin Davis. ... leading to an easy decision for coach Jason Garrett and staff.

The levels of foolishness here are many.

*Claiborne could face a fine for skipping team work. ... or worse, this mushrooms into a mutiny that brings back memories of Dallas' divorces from Kyle Orton and Jay Ratliff.

*The competitor in him should be fighting to get back on the field, not to walk away from it. ... and without that fight, questions of mental toughness will join the already existing ones regarding physical toughness.

*And maybe most of all, as it relates to this week's visit from the Saints, Dallas' "backup corner'' will quite likely play 40-plus snaps. For even with Scandrick starting, there is still a role for other guys when the Cowboys go to Nickel (where Scandrick could move inside with Claiborne back on the field at corner).

"I'm ready to go learn from this tape and get better from it,'' Mo said on Sunday. "No matter what the outcome is I can't go out and play like that. ... On my end, I can't go out like that."

A competitor "can't go out like that'' on Sundays. But it's even worse when he goes out like this on a Tuesday.

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