Jay Ratliff's locker remained intact at Valley Ranch on Thursday, but the defensive tackle is gone from Dallas. While it was a sour ending, Ratliff was a success -- a seventh-round pick in 2005 who finished his nine seasons with 27 sacks, 317 tackles and five forced fumbles.
His teammates insist they will miss him.
"Anytime guys have injuries I think just naturally as a player you support them and hope they can get healthy," tight end Jason Witten said. "A veteran like that, you know he’s doing everything he can to physically get himself back out there. Anytime it goes that way…. Is there ever a good time to end it? It probably was difficult. He’s a guy I’ve known for a long time. We’ve played together for a long time – the core group of us. He’s a guy you want on your side on Sundays, that’s for sure."
Ratliff was absent from Valley Ranch most of the off-season and during the season as he rehabbed a pelvis injury. He showed up Wednesday in the trainers' room before his release. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware said he spoke to Ratliff and wished him well.
The Cowboys, though, have moved on. They, better than anyone, knows the NFL is a business. It's "what have you done for me lately."
"It's too bad he's gone," linebacker Sean Lee said. "It would be great to have a player like that, but he's not going to be here. We've got guys who have stepped up and who are ready to step up."
Nick Hayden has started every game at nose tackle, next to undertackle Jason Hatcher.
-- Charean Williams