Owner Jerry Jones acknowledged the loss of the former Pro Bowler for the first six games of the season as a member of the Physically Unable to Perform list is a huge setback for the Cowboys.
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.
"It is a setback. No, it is a setback," Jones said. "We will have to adjust just as we would if it was a mid-season injury. What we’re doing there and his status is that hopefully will move the process along faster. We’re hopeful this will let us rehab-wise, strength-wise that we can do more than just address this where he is."
Jones said he didn't know of any tension between Ratliff and the athletic training staff.
"I don’t know about that," Jones said. "What I’m saying I don’t know any of the details and I don’t have any comment on that."
Jones also refused to second-guess the decision to allow Ratliff to participate in the pre-camp conditioning test, where he complicated his rehab from the sports hernia with the additional hamstring injury.
"Again, everybody that was involved in the decision thought he could run the conditioning test for sure,'' Jones said. "So everybody involved in that decision thought he could run it. Everyone. 100 percent."
Jones said there no thought from anyone on the Cowboys that Ratliff won't play this season. He said if that was the case they would have done something different to address the position and not just him on PUP.
Despite the setback, Jones said his hopes and expectations for Ratliff haven't changed. Once he get's healthy and returns to the field, the Cowboys believe he will be an impact player in the defense and help extend the season beyond the 10 games that would be left and into the playoffs.
"I hope he’s an All-Pro player," Jones said. "I hope he can be. He can have let’s see, he could have certainly 13, 14 to go if it went like you’d like for it to be. A player like this as we again we’re just getting tested on our depth right out of the shoot, right off the bat, but hopefully we’ve got the depth to hold it until we can get him out there."
Clarence Hill Jr