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July 30, 2008

Ratliff new starting DE?

That's what it looks like and sounds like from Jay Ratliff. He worked exclusively at defensive end during the first practice Wednesday morning while Marcus Spears worked at nose tackle.

"That was something that had been talked about," Ratliff said of switching to defensive end. "But I guess it's a reality now."

Ratliff was just getting used to being a solid nose tackle, but now has the freedom of more space to take advantage of his burst and relentless motor. He is considered undersized at nose, but Spears is not. He is noticeably bigger this season (listed at 315 pounds) and looks more like Ferguson.

The move gives the Cowboys a bigger body in the middle and possibly a better pass rusher at defensive end. Spears has struggled to provide a steady rush and this move could add a new dimension to the defense. Wade Phillips said yesterday this was just something they were working on to add another wrinkle.

Ratliff started playing defensive end in the 3-4 before moving to nose last year when Jason Ferguson got hurt in the season opener.

"It's going to take some time getting used to it," Ratliff said of defensive end.

- Rick Herrin

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