For yet another training camp, hype and expectations are building around Dallas Cowboys' cornerback Morris Claiborne.
The former sixth overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent play during his time in Dallas. These flaws have come with a fair share of criticism, as fans wait anxiously for Claiborne to become the player we all hoped he'd be when the Cowboys traded up to snatch him.
After coming off what was his best season yet, early reports of Claiborne's performance in training camp have been positive. Yesterday, RJ Ochoa discussed how Claiborne is being used defensively thus far, as he is currently working as the number one corner on the right side.
While Claiborne's performance on defense will ultimately be what we judge him by, he is also looking to the often forgotten third phase of the game to make his presence felt this season, special teams.
For the past two years, Claiborne has been repeatedly asking special teams coach Rich Bisaccia to let him return some punts and kickoffs, as he did in college. Based off of both the voluntary programs in the Spring and Monday's practice, it appears that Bisaccia has finally conceded to Claiborne's request.
Morris Claiborne,The Returner
During his time at LSU, Claiborne was a dynamic return man. Averaging 26.3 yards per return, and returning a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, Claiborne is the seventh most prolific returner in school history in terms of yardage. He also returned a total of two kicks in 19 tries for touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons at LSU.
As a Cowboy, Claiborne has not been afforded the opportunity to return many kicks. The concerns that come with putting Claiborne back there are abundant and clear.
First and foremost, Claiborne at least seems to be somewhat injury prone based on his injury history with the Cowboys. Last year was about as healthy as he's been for an entire season, and he still missed some time with a hamstring injury.
The Cowboys might also be a little less wary of trying Claiborne out as a returner if he wasn't so vital to this already depleted defense. Right now, he seems to be competing for the starting right cornerback job with Brandon Carr. Even if Carr ends up being the starter, Claiborne will still play a ton of snaps each game, and will be needed to excel when on the field.
When you combine his injury history with his importance to this team, making him the kickoff returner seems sort of illogical.
But, if Morris Claiborne is both able to perform and be successful in the return game, what would that mean for the rest of this team?
We are all aware of the competition going on for what seems to be just five roster spots among the wide receivers. With Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley being locks to make the team, there are only two spots left to be challenged for by a boatload of guys.
At the moment, it seems like Lucky Whitehead may also be a lock to make the team as a receiver, in large part because of his versatility in the return game. But if Morris Claiborne can take over this role full time, Whitehead will all of a sudden become more expendable. I like Lucky Whitehead and personally hope he makes the team, but if Claiborne can double as a returner, his chances of retaining a roster spot certainly diminish a bit. Especially once running back and possible return man Lance Dunbar returns from his injury rehab.
In the end, though, I don't believe the coaches will be willing to risk Morris Claiborne in the return game. We all know how weak the Cowboys are up-front defensively, so they will need the back end of their defense to pick up some of the slack and buy their pass rushers more time.
Morris Claiborne must play a vital role in doing just that.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
REPORT: Police Detain Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford After Bar Fight
According to TMZ, Tyrone Crawford was involved in a brawl at a bar in Panama City, FL last Friday night. The Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman and team captain was detained by police but apparently was not arrested.
The level of Crawford's involvement has not been substantiated, but TMZ's report does have him shoving police officers at some point in the action. The incident was reportedly captured by surveillance equipment at the bar.
Given that he was not arrested, one could assume that Tyrone was not one of the primary players in the melee. But that doesn't mean the NFL won't still review this matter as it relates to the personal conduct policy, and Cowboys fans know too well how "fair" that process can be.
This is certainly not a story you'd expect to see attached to Tyrone Crawford, who has been a model citizen and leader since entering the league in 2012.
Dallas elected to keep Crawford this season despite solid potential savings. He will count $10.1 million against their 2019 salary cap, which is high for his average production. However, he can play multiple positions and is one of their most experienced players.
Even if Tyrone were to get suspended by the league, it likely wouldn't be more than a one or two-game ban given his record and reputation. It shouldn't change anything about his status with the team.
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