After four games off to start the season, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Morris Claiborne is eligible to return to action against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football. Claiborne spoke to the press Thursday about the first few days of practice following his NFL suspension.
“It went well,” he said. “It was exciting to get back out there — especially to be around the guys and out on the field — and get back to moving around and doing football drills and stuff like that. Just getting the reps in.”
The former first-round draft pick — a longtime veteran of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets — had to spend the start of his ninth NFL campaign on the sidelines after receiving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. That suspension ended on Monday, opening the way for Claiborne to spend his days just like the rest of his new Chiefs teammates.
“I was here every single day,” he said of the time he was suspended. “Went through the week as if I was playing. I did everything except field stuff — walk-throughs, practice and that type of stuff — but I was able to be in the meetings. I was able to be around the guys. I was able to take notes and that type of thing as if I was playing actual games.”
Claiborne said he feels like he’s ready to go.
“I feel like I can go out and play,” he said. “One of the hardest parts is getting your wind — getting used to doing that type of running and that type of cutting at that tempo — but the strength staff did a good job of helping me to keep my legs, so when I came out this week, my legs felt [stronger] than they ever did. Just going through and getting those reps — it’s a different type of breathing when you’re out there.”
Even though he will be eligible to play on Sunday, Claiborne said he doesn’t know if he’ll play that soon.
“In this league, you need those reps — actual, game-like reps — and you only can get those in practice when you’ve got guys going against you. I did a lot of stuff on my own — and I went with the strength coaches while I was out — but nothing compares to getting those live reps out on the field.”
So it may be a week or two before the Chiefs feel comfortable putting Claiborne back on the field.
“There’s a chance,” said head coach Andy Reid of Claiborne’s chance to play against the Colts this Sunday. “We’ll just see. I’m going to check with the guys — check with his coaches — and just see how he is. But he practiced, and we’ll see how it goes once we get there.
“He had a good three days,” Reid added. “He’d gotten himself in pretty good shape, so it wasn’t like when he came back, he couldn’t move. He moved around pretty good.”
Claiborne is clearly eager to get back to playing.
“It’s a chance to get a lot of turnovers,” he said of the new-look Chiefs defense. “It’s a chance to make a lot of plays. I feel like our coaches do a good job of putting us in those situations. It’s just going to be up to us as players to capitalize when they come to us. I love this defense. On the defensive line, you’ve got guys who can get after the ball and make the quarterback do things he doesn’t want to do. On the back end, we just have to be on top of it. This defense allows you to do that.”