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Morris Claiborne, Bruce Carter on Cowboys' hot seat

Philip Rivers' 83.3 percent completion rate in the San Diego Chargers' 30-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys was the highest any quarterback ever has recorded in a 400-yard performance.

Rivers exploited two Cowboys defenders in particular: weakside linebacker Bruce Carter and cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Although Dallas' coaches are reluctant to use the word "benching," coverage woes have led to increased roles for Ernie Sims and Orlando Scandrick at the expense of Carter and Claiborne, respectively.

Opposing quarterbacks have completed 25 of 35 passes (71.4 percent) for 268 yards when targeting Carter this season, per Pro Football Focus.

"Bruce had some problems covering their guys," coach Jason Garrett said Monday, via the team's official website. "Two of their touchdowns were scored with (Danny) Woodhead on him, and he didn't cover him that well, and there some other things going on in our other coverages that he didn't do a good enough job on."

While Scandrick has limited opposing receivers to 5.8 yards per catch, Claiborne ranks just 99th among 101 cornerbacks graded by Pro Football Focus this season.


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An NFC personnel man opined to ESPNDallas.com that Claiborne is "a good cover guy with top-flight weight, height and speed to cover," but he isn't a ballhawk and has trouble following the ball at times.

Garrett believes the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has been plagued by poor technique and low confidence while playing through a dislocated shoulder.

"They went to him too much in this ballgame, and they were too effective," Garrett said. "He's just got to play better, and he will play better."

Claiborne isn't winning any points with executive vice president Stephen Jones, who declared Monday that it's time for the cornerback's "injury thing to leave the scene."

The Cowboys understandably had lofty preseason expectations for both Carter and Claiborne as potential breakout stars. At the quarter-season mark, the two high draft picks now are under pressure to start carrying their weight on a defense that has shut down opposing rushing attacks.

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