Morris Claiborne Injury Won't Affect Dallas Cowboys Defense

Jonathan BargerContributor IOctober 15, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 14:  Wide receiver Torrey Smith #82 of the Baltimore Ravens catches a touchdown pass in front of cornerback Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Yesterday afternoon, the Cowboys played at an extremely high level against a playoff team. With seconds left, the normally reliable Dan Bailey narrowly missed the upright for a game-winning field goal. While the Cowboys welcomed back Jay Ratliff in the middle of the defense, they suffered an injury that might not affect the Cowboys as badly as the initial knee-jerk reactions.

In the second quarter, Morris Claiborne experienced some "incidental contact" that caused an injury to his left knee. A pass-interference penalty was called on Claiborne, however, the call was questionable and looks like it should have been called on wide receiver Torrey Smith, negating the TD play.

Claiborne hasn't been prone to injury issues but missed much of training camp and off-season work while he was rehabbing a surgically repaired wrist.

Although Claiborne returned in the second half (which is a good sign of his status for next week) even if Claiborne was lost for a couple of games, the front office's decision to keep Mike Jenkins is looking smarter and smarter. 

If Claiborne was to miss any time, this defense wouldn't miss a beat. The rush defense was extremely stout against Ray Rice and the usual ground and pound. The Cowboys were killed with underneath throws, and one sideline catch by Anquan Boldin after Brandon Carr slipped and fell on the play.

In the unlikely event that Claiborne is unable to suit up, or his time will be limited, look to see Jenkins take the field and continue to put on a defensive show. Even with limited time, Jenkins has been all over receivers and is playing his guts out to get a new contract. Heck, as well as he is playing, Jerry might actually give him one.

The only change that the defense might see is in the nickel and dime packages. With the Cowboys thin at the safety position because of the season-ending injury to Barry Church, expect to see rookie turnover sensation Matt Johnson get some extra work. 

The more worrisome injury to pay attention to is the continued absence of outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, with a pectoral muscle injury and a newly injured DeMarco Murray.

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