Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff didn’t make himself available to reporters during OTAs and minicamp this spring, but maybe it was part of the plan.
He said Wednesday in a radio interview that the Cowboys defense is going to shut up and do its job.
“We’re not going to sit here and talk about what we’re going to do this year or all the expectations everyone else has for us,” he told KTCK 1310-AM “The Ticket.” “I think the attitude for us this year needs to be we’re going to be quiet. To put it bluntly, we’re going to shut up, not say a thing and do our jobs.”
Ratliff was limited during the offseason practices because of a foot injury, but he said he can sense a change in the confidence level of the defense because of the offseason work.
“The defense is way more confident this year,” the eighth-year veteran said. “You have players really stepping up. One player that comes to mind is Jason Hatcher. We’re looking for him to have a breakout season. He’s more confident in the defense. He’s doing great things, creating a lot of disruption. The defensive backs are all over the place. Those guys are communicating. Everyone’s challenging the pass. No one’s sitting there waiting for the ball to come to make a tackle. They’re going for the ball. It’s a really aggressive defense. Everybody seems to have a great understanding of it. Everyone’s on the same page. We’re expecting great things from ourselves.”
But Ratliff has to remind himself to slow down. He knows who won the Super Bowl last year.
“Honestly, we don’t have room to talk,” he said. “The giants are the Super Bowl champions. They’ve won two Super Bowls in the last five years. We just need to be quiet and do our jobs. Nothing else.”
So does playing the Giants in the season opener mean something extra?
“It is a division game, and you know how those games can come back and bite you if you don’t take care of business,” he said. “But right now, the main thing we’re focused on is getting ourselves right for training camp and mastering each of our respective positions, our craft. And if every individual can do that, our team will be that much better. And I believe everything will work out. We will take care of business. This is no bulletin board material. This is just something for our team, what we need to do, myself included. And that’s what’s going to happen.”
Ratliff, who will be 31 in August and was slowed by a rib injury in the second half of the season last year, said age is not an issue for him right now but agreed there is a sense of urgency for him and the Cowboys right now.
“The only thing that I notice is your mentality. You really want to take advantage of these moments,” he said. “The window’s kind of closing. In your 30s, the way this business is, that’s kind of old, or whatever. I don’t feel old. ... I think the word I’m looking for is urgency.”
Ratliff was asked if he’d rather play nose tackle or defensive end.
“Honestly? I really don’t care,” the former seventh-round pick out of Auburn said. “At the end of the day, the opportunity came for me to play nose. I took it. I do my job. I need to go to defensive end, whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do that. Everyone always talks about size: You’re not big enough, I don’t know if you’re strong enough, this that or the other. They look at all the numbers. But how do you measure a man’s will just to get the job done? That’s all it is. There’s my secret.”
-- Carlos Mendez