Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff has not participated in the team’s training camp since tweaking his hamstring during the team’s conditioning test. While Ratliff has been missing plenty of action, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not worried about his star defensive lineman being able to contribute for the regular season, but he doesn’t plan on Ratliff returning to the field until they make the move back to Texas.
“Well, I think that I have to urge everybody to put it in perspective,” Jones said, via Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “I’m interested in him being in shape. I’m interested in him having the best chance to play as much as he can during the season.I don’t have any desire to see him make a lot of plays in preseason. I know what he can do.
“So our goal should be – and I know it’s his – to get him out there so he’s lined up [in the regular season opener] against the Giants and will stay on the field all the way through the season, relative to any injuries or anything like that. It’s unique, because we know what he is and we see what he is physically right now. He’s very capable of playing at the level that he’s always played at. We’ve just got to not get in a hurry there.”
Ratliff was also hampered by injuries last season, but Jones believes that Ratliff is as talented as ever and that he can return to his Pro Bowl form.
“His style of play will allow him, if he’s healthy, to be what he is,” Jones said. “And he should be, from the standpoint of his physical health, he should be in the prime of his career. In the prime of his career.
“Arguably, when a guy is 30 years old, he’s at his strongest. Thirty-one years old, he can be at his strongest. There’s no reason in the world we handicap 31 and 32 because we’re looking at how much is left past that. As far as looking at the physical attributes of the player, he can be every bit of the player strength-wise or effectiveness in his thirties as he was at 28 or 29.”
Ratfliff is a veteran, so there isn’t a big reason for the team to worry about his lack of preseason snaps. He knows how the NFL works and missing out on the training camp will not be a big deal for a player with his experience.