With the plan in 2013 for the Dallas Cowboys cornerbacks to play a more in-your-face, physical style, the onus is on starters Brandon Carr and second-year player Morris Claiborne to carry that plan out.
The style will suit them well.
Carr, a six-year veteran who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before signing a $50 million deal with the Cowboys last offseason, has the physical tools to do so. At 6-foot and 206 pounds, he is bigger than the average cornerback, and has a physical nature to him that definitely helps in playing that style.
Claiborne, who is entering his second season after being drafted by the Cowboys in 2012’s draft, is significantly smaller than Carr on the height front — at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds — but also has the same physical mentality that will enable him to potentially flourish in Monte Kiffin‘s defensive system that emphasizes more cornerback aggressiveness than normal.
For the the two corners, last season was viewed as a disappointment to some. Their stats — 55 tackles, one forced fumble, one interception for Claiborne, and 53 tackles and three interceptions for Carr — would suggest a successful season, but for a pairing that makes in excess of $50 million, it was thought of as a season that failed to meet expectations.
But with Kiffin’s new Tampa-2 defense, where physical play at the cornerback positions is a necessity, Carr and Claiborne should flourish this upcoming season — both individually and as a tandem. The biggest dose of physicality we saw from them last season was a collective effort in Week 1 against the New York Giants where they kept Giants’ receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks — one of the league’s best receiving duos — in check by pressing and getting physical. With the new scheme though, more of that should become the norm, and when you factor in that Carr failed to reach 50 total tackles just once in his six-year career, there is no reason why the duo can’t be a thorn in the side of opposing receivers in 2013.
Last season was their first year together, and naturally, there would be some growing pains associated with that — Claiborne as a rookie, and Carr adapting to a new team and environment.
But in 2013, they’ll have the benefit of a full year together, and the advantage of playing in a new defensive scheme that caters to their skill sets.
It should definitely suit them well.