The Pittsburgh Steelers have issues in their secondary heading into their game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, but so too do the Cowboys as starting rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne might be forced to sit out the game after suffering a setback with his concussion that he incurred last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reports on Saturday that the Cowboys were still evaluating Claiborne\’s status for Sunday\’s game against the Steelers after the rookie had to leave practice on Thursday after suffering some dizziness.
Claiborne was listed on the Cowboys Friday injury report as questionable after practicing on a limited basis on Friday. The cornerback said on Friday that he is preparing to play, but that he hadn\’t yet passed the final IMPACT concussion test.
“He’s hanging in there,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said on Friday, via the report by Watkins. “He got a little dizzy yesterday so I’m not sure about his availability for this game, but I know he’s doing everything he can and he’s got to pass these tests. That’s the one thing, they’ve got this protocol and no one can rush it no matter who you are, so I think it’s great for the players\’ safety that we make sure when they do come back they come back with no trouble coming back. When Mo comes back he’ll be ready to go, and until then we’ll just move forward.”
Should Claiborne wind up being one of the seven inactive players he would be replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Jenkins, who has been the slot corner for the Cowboys most of the season. When Dallas uses their nickel sub package Jenkins would shift back to his accustomed spot in the slot and Sterling Moore would come in to play the outside spot opposite Brandon Carr.
Moore has been with the Cowboys just a few weeks as he was signed off of the practice squad of the New England Patriots at the end of November after Orlando Scandrick was lost for the season with a hand injury. He has played under 30 snaps for the Cowboys since his arrival with the majority of them coming last Sunday in the win over the Bengals after Claiborne left the game with his concussion.
It gets even thinner for the Cowboys at the cornerback position after that as the injury to Claiborne forced them to sign cornerback Michael Coe off waivers from the Miami Dolphins earlier this week. Coe could see some time on defense against the Steelers should they decide to use their dime package on obvious passing downs.
Expect the Steelers offense to attack the Cowboys cornerbacks Sunday with a heavy use of three or more wide receiver sets as they surely want to get Moore and Coe on the field as much as possible should Claiborne wind up sitting. Even if Claiborne does play it would be advisable to test him early and often in the game to make sure that he indeed has his head on straight.