Nose tackle Jay Ratliff returned to practice Thursday, in pads for the first time in training camp, as the Cowboys have been easing his return to the field from foot pain.
He worked a little bit with the first-team defense, but he didn’t go through all of the practice. Josh Brent continued to get a lot of the action at nose tackle.
Defensive end Marcus Spears said it’s a sign of Ratliff’s leadership that he was out there, but he could tell the veteran nose tackle was not full-go quite yet.
“He’s trying to be that leader, trying to come out there when he still may be in a little pain and show guys that this is the way to do it,” Spears said. “None of us play this game 100 percent healthy, anyway. Jay Ratliff, he’s one of the top dogs in this league, and that’s why, because he pushes through things like that.”
Ratliff declined a post-practice interview.
Spears said it was easy to tell Ratliff was in pain, but that he may be just taking it easy right now.
“It may be somewhat that he doesn’t really need to press it that hard, and some may be discomfort,” Spears said. “I think for him to come out there today is a lot of progress.”
For Spears, too, the day marked progress. He missed a week of worth because of a concussion.
“It felt good, man,” he said. “I was actually just trying to get in and make sure that I knew everything that was going on. My head is fine. I felt good. I didn’t have any mental mistakes. So that’s always a good sign that you don’t have a concussion.”
He said he didn’t feel behind after the missed time.
“We’ve been at it since OTAs, so nothing really changed,” he said. “We had a few adjustments that I had to get abreast to when I was out there, but nothing really major. It was some quick stuff that I picked up on and was able to do it.”
Spears said he wants to lose about five pounds to be at his best playing weight. He’s listed at 315.
“I’m almost there. It shouldn’t be too hard with all the football we’ve got left before the season starts,” he said. “It’s definitely a good deal being out here in California, but you definitely don’t lose weight fast.”
-- Carlos Mendez