Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff says there is no issue with his hamstring, meaning a setback that will cost him at least the first six games is related to a groin that was surgically repaired eight months ago.
Ratliff spoke at the team’s kickoff luncheon Wednesday, a day after being put on the physically unable to perform list. He never answered questions from reporters during training camp in Oxnard, Calif., where coach Jason Garrett said he was sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained in the pre-camp conditioning test and lingering issues with his groin.
The team put him on the reserve list as part of cutting the active roster to 75 players, and Ratliff can’t play until Oct. 20 at Philadelphia. He was out the first four games last year with an ankle injury and then sat the final six with the groin problem.
Ratliff, who turns 32 on Thursday, had sports hernia surgery in December.
”Absolutely I’m disappointed,” Ratliff said in a rare and brief interview. ”But everyone knew what the issue was way beforehand. Everyone knew what it was since last year. I’m not going into much more detail other than that. It’s for sure it’s not a hamstring tweak. So that’s all I have to say about it.”
When asked why he didn’t do his rehabilitation at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters, Ratliff responded, ”Good question.” He wouldn’t elaborate.
”Let’s just keep the focus on these guys going out there and playing and winning games,” said Ratliff, who said he ”absolutely” plans to play this season. ”I’m not going to be here and be a distraction to anybody. Just stay as professional as possible about the whole situation. But everyone that is involved knows what is going on.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones declined to address any perceived differences with the training staff over Ratliff’s comments. He said he didn’t second-guess the decision for Ratliff to participate in the conditioning test July 20 in California because ”everybody involved in that decision thought he could run it.”
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware was ready for training camp after attending rehab sessions at Valley Ranch following offseason shoulder surgery. Jones said Ratliff not doing his rehab work with the team was ”a combination of schedule. It’s a combination of preference.”
”It implies that he was not involved in supervision and he was,” Jones said. ”We knew what he was doing. We did have special situations that gave us peace of mind that we were getting the work done and we were getting the injury rehabbed.”
Jones said he expects Ratliff to play this season. By the time he’s eligible to return, Ratliff will have missed 16 of the past 22 games, and he has just two sacks in the two years since he signed a $40 million extension on a contact that now runs through 2017. Ratliff didn’t have a sack in the six games he played last year.
”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.”
Nick Hayden, a sixth-year player who has started 28 games in his career but was out of football last season, was in Ratliff’s spot in the preseason against Cincinnati last weekend. The Cowboys are also without Anthony Spencer, the defensive end on Ratliff’s side. Spencer underwent arthroscopic knee surgery early in camp and says he believes he’ll be ready for the opener Sept. 8 against the New York Giants.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he was ”hopeful” Ratliff would play this season.
”Right now, we don’t think he’s going to be ready to play in the next few weeks, so we thought this was a good move, give him a chance to get himself healthy,” Garrett said. ”You know it’s a long season, a lot of football games to be played over the course of a long time.”