Source: Jones, Ratliff in confrontation

CINCINNATI — Because of groin, ankle and foot problems, four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff hasn’t played for the Dallas Cowboys since Nov. 18 vs. the Cleveland Browns. He missed his seventh game of the year when the Cowboys kicked off Sunday at Cincinnati.

But he was “active” in a sense on Dec. 2 after the Cowboys beat the Eagles. Ratliff engaged in what sources told was a “volcanic” and jaw-to-jaw exchange with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

“They’re both passionate men and great men and they want to win, that’s all it is,” one source said. “But they were in each other’s faces. People had to intervene.”

In six games this season, Ratliff has 16 tackles and no sacks. His replacement in the Cowboys lineup, Josh Brent, is facing an intoxicated manslaughter charge after a Saturday car accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown, so the Cowboys are thin at that position.

Jones habitually approaches players in the postgame locker room either to congratulate or console. In the case of Ratliff — who signed a five-year, $40-million contract extension in September 2011 — sources said Jones started the conversation by saying, “We need you.”

Ratliff’s response, sources said, was a heated one. Jones, 70, did not back down even as the 6-foot-4, 303-pound player rose to physically challenge him and then made derisive mention of Jones’ age.

Sources said Ratliff was a rather brooding presence this week at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters as he spent another week not practicing. His long-term future with the club is unclear.