When defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp because of a hamstring injury suffered during the pre-camp conditioning test, it was supposed to be a short time thing.
Roughly four weeks later, Ratliff has yet to return to the practice field and there is no timetable on when he will start practicing. He will miss all of training camp in Oxnard as the Cowboys will leave there before Saturday's third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
At this point it''s not known when or if Ratliff will play at all in the preseason.
However, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones remains unconcerned and doesn't care at all if he takes a preseason snap. He says the Cowboys have a good handle on Ratliff's injury and he just wants him ready to go play a full season when they begin the regular season Sept. 8 against the Giants.
"I’m interested in him being in shape," Jones said. "I’m interested in him having the best chance to play as much as he can during the season. I don’t have any desire to see him make a lot of plays in preseason. I know what he can do.
"So our goal should be – and I know it’s his – to get him out there so he’s lined up against the Giants and will stay on the field all the way through the season, relative to any injuries or anything like that.
"It’s unique, because we know what he is and we see what he is physically right now. He’s very capable of playing at the level that he’s always played at. We’ve just got to not get in a hurry there."
Ratliff missed 10 games last season because of foot and hernia injuries. He has seen his production drop in each of the last four seasons.
Yet, Jones said is he very confident Ratliff can still play at a Pro Bowl level when healthy and there will be no drop off.
Considering Ratliff's age _ he turns 32 Aug. 29 _ the question is why?
"The nature of him, his play, type player he is, his makeup," Jones said. "We call it makeup, his energy level, how he approaches the game. His style of play will allow him, if he’s healthy, to be what he is. And he should be, from the standpoint of his physical health, he should be in the prime of his career. In the prime of his career.
"Arguably, when a guy is 30 years old, he’s at his strongest. Thirty-one years old, he can be at his strongest. There’s no reason in the world we handicap 31 and 32 because we’re looking at how much is left past that.
"As far as looking at the physical attributes of the player, he can be every bit of the player strength-wise or effectiveness in his thirties as he was at 28 or 29.
"I’m not concerned. If we can get him to where the soft-tissue things are comfortable for him, I’m not concerned about him playing at the level that we’d expect to open the season. I don’t want to push anything over a preseason game with him."Clarence Hill