Four-time Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff experienced a tumultuous 2012 season with the Dallas Cowboys plagued by injuries, a locker-room conflict with owner Jerry Jones, and last month, a DUI arrest.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys on Friday left no doubt about the team’s plans for Ratliff to remain with the team this year.
“Absolutely,” coach Jason Garrett said from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Ratliff has been told he’s a lead candidate to play the key “under-tackle” position in Dallas’ new 4-3 defensive scheme. The eight-year veteran, who is under contract through the 2017 season, has slipped in performance after signing a $40 million extension in 2011. But there is no consideration of making him a cap casualty – maybe especially because fellow interior lineman Josh Brent faces an uncertain future due to him facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter after a December car accident that killed close friend and Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown.
Ratliff and Jason Hatcher are among those in contention for starting roles in new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme.
“Jay Ratliff is an outstanding football player,” Garrett said. “He’s been a Pro Bowl player for us. He plays with a great demeanor for us, great desire and passion for the game. … The biggest thing with Jay is just to get him healthy, first and foremost, and get him back to playing the way he’s capable of playing. The real positive thing is, in the games he played, he really played like Jay Ratliff plays. … We’ve just got to get him healthy and going again.”