One of the sticking points to the Cowboys decision to place defensive tackle Jay Ratliff on the physically unable to perform list to start the season because of setbacks in his rehab from groin and hamstring injuries is the fact that Ratliff rehabbed on his own in the off season.
Ratliff's agent Mark Slough said his client was focused on getting back on the field and spent of a lot of his own money trying to get healthy for the 2013 season after missing ten games in 2010, including the last six because of sports hernia surgery.
The Cowboys have no doubt about Ratliff's dedication to his rehab and his desire to play, despite his brooding personality. Coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones have gone out of their way laud his committment and passion.
Cowboys vice-president Stephen Jones echoed that sentiment.
"I believe in Jay," Jones said. "I think he's a competitor. I think, you know, there's some things that can be frustrating when you have injuries. … Those things happen. I'm convinced that we've got a program now -- he's had a few setbacks -- that hopefully will put him on the road where he can play for us at some point this season."
But there is also no escaping the fact that Ratliff spent his time away from the Cowboys training staff in the off season. And now he has had multiple setbacks in his rehab and will be sidelined for the first six weeks of the season.
This is expecially troubling because Ratliff was expected to be a key component in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. The Cowboys envisioned Ratliff being an inside pass rusher from the under tackle position in Kiffin's defense similar to Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was during their time together in Tampa Bay.
Jones said Ratliff is not the first player to rehab on his own but the team prefers they rehab in house with trainer Britt Brown, a highly respected rehab specialist.
"We’ve had players, and there’s players around the league who rehab with their team and there’s some that rehab in different places," Jones said. "I don’t think there’s any formula that says, hey, this is good, this isn’t good. Obviously we have facilities here, and we like to have our hands on them. But we also respect when guys, and they obviously have that right to do something different. But we always, our preference is to have them here."