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Shutdown Corner

Stephen Jones calls out rookie Mo Claiborne, denies calling out rookie Mo Claiborne

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Stephen Jones puts on his thinkin' face. (Getty Images)

Apparently, you can't make the club in a tub ... but you can run the club if you're a scrub. Dallas Cowboys CEO/Executive Vice President/Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones, whose football qualifications seem limited to a few college highlights and the fact that dad Jerry owns the team, recently came out in the media and blasted first-round cornerback Morris Claiborne, who's supposed to be the epicenter of a secondary the 'Boys have let slide in the past few years.

When asked about Claiborne's inability to participate in practice through much of the preseason due to various injuries, Jones the Younger didn't hold back ... at all.

"Our young guys got to get healthy," Jones told KRLD-FM in Dallas on Friday. "There's no excuse. All of them."

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Morris Claiborne has taken the high road. (Getty Images)

All of them, but Claiborne specifically. The former LSU star has missed time with a left wrist injury, and he recently suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee.

"Mo Claiborne's got to get out there," Jones said on Friday. "The times he's been out there, it's been impressive. But he certainly can't make the club in the tub, if you will. He's got to get out there. It's time. We got to start having a mentality that we're going to play through things.

"You don't ever see Jason Witten missing practice, and he's going on 10 [seasons]. He just won't miss. So, we got to have the young guys step up and play better."

Hmmm ... so, is the issue that Claiborne has to play through injuries in training camp, or that he has to play better? We're unsure. Bringing Witten into the equation is an interesting gambit, and the seven-time Pro Bowler hasn't missed a game since the 2006 season despite his well-deserved status as one of the more physical players at his position. However, it's not as if the injuries are figments of Claiborne's imagination.

The knee injury, which he suffered earlier this month, became a factor when the team's own trainers decided to hold the rookie out of practice. So, maybe Jones should take issue with his trainers. And maybe he will in time. The wrist injury required surgery earlier this season, and the final procedure has doctors removing pins from Claiborne's wrist. And he played through much of the 2011 season for LSU with that wrist injury.

In other words, there aren't boo-boos, and Claiborne has played well through injuries before. Yes, you want a rookie you traded up to get to be on the field as much as possible, but in an era when the NFL pays more lip service than ever to player safety, Jones' statements seem counter-intuitive at best.

Perhaps he realized that by the time he made his next statement on the subject. "No, there's no frustration," Jones said after the team's Saturday walkthrough. "What there is and what I meant to say is in general, at some point, these guys have got to get back on the field. But we were not in any way being derogatory toward Mo Claiborne. Period ... I have zero worry about Mo Claiborne. How that gets there is beyond me."

How Jones can say that it's beyond him is beyond me; but that's another matter. To his credit, Claiborne said that he understood Jones' point of view.

"Of course I'm frustrated," Claiborne said. "I've missed a lot time in the past due to my wrist. To have something else happen where I miss time, it's frustrating on me, but I can't do nothing about it. I just listen to what the trainers have me do and try to get back as fast as I can."

There you go, Mr. CEO/VP. The kid's doing what your trainers are telling him to do. Perhaps before Stephen Jones shoots his mouth off again, he should talk to the team's medical staff and get a real read on where his players are in their recovery processes. Or, failing that, perhaps Jones should avoid shooting his mouth off altogether.

We suspect that Mo Claiborne will have made many plays in the NFL before THAT realization happens.

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