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07/21/2013

The position where the Cowboys are in deeeeeeep trouble

JayRatliffOXNARD, California - We're not even one full day into the Dallas Cowboys training camp and nose tackle Jay Ratliff is already hurt. Impressed it took that long. 

He pulled a hamstring during the team's conditioning test on Saturday afternoon and he was placed, gingerly lest he get hurt again, on the physically unable to perform list. Like all of us, he's day to day.

Counting on Jay Ratliff to play, let alone start, may have been the single biggest dice roll this team is taking entering the season. Just from a football standpoint, had Josh Brent not had his drunk driving accident back in Decemeber he would be this team's starting nose tackle and Ratliff would have been cut.

Now, on the depth chart it's Ben Bass and Ikponmwosa Igbunosun (good luck pronouncing that) at nose tackle. 

Make no mistake - the Cowboys banked on Ratliff. They elected to cross their fingers extra tight on the off chance Ratliff could remain healthy. When he is healty, the man could play; age is finally beginning to win in its fight v. JRat.

Last season, Ratliff was sidelined with ankle and groin injuries that limited him to six games. That's one problem.

The other problem is that he will turn 32 at the end of August. He has already eight years of what has been pretty brutal NFL football on his resume. When he was right, and in his prime, Ratliff was one of the most fierce, nasty and relentless nose tackles in the game. He has the motor.

But his motor is broken and it his age it's hard to figure it will ever run again.

 

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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