BYE-WEEK RESET: Dallas Cowboys ready for fresh start

NFL - National Football League - Football - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys are disappointed with their 2-2 start.

But there is nothing they can do about that now.

So cornerback Brandon Carr said the Dallas Cowboys have let go of the first four games and returned Monday after their bye focused on the second quarter of the season, which arguably features the toughest stretch of the year, with three of the next four on the road.

"Guys are just eager to get out there and to have fun, just to get out there and mix it up a little bit," Carr said Monday.

The upcoming schedule takes them to Baltimore on Sunday, Carolina the next, home against the New York Giants, and then to Atlanta. With a road game at Philadelphia the following week, the Cowboys have four of the next five on the road.

"We have to focus on the now, and the now is the Baltimore Ravens," he said. "This week, getting ourselves prepared both mentally and physically for a 60-minute dogfight, and that’s what we’re going to get."

Ratliff’s return

The best news coming out of last week’s bye is that Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a number of other injured defenders are ready to return.

The others include linebacker Anthony Spencer, who missed the Chicago Bears game with a strained pectoral muscle, and defensive end Kenyon Coleman, who missed the past two games with a hyperextended knee.

Ratliff missed the first four games with a high ankle sprain.

He practiced on Monday and should be ready to make his season debut against Baltimore.

"Getting Jay back is like getting three guys back," defensive end Marcus Spears said Monday. "In the nickel packages, in the base packages and then teams actually game plan for Jay Ratliff."

Costa’s role

Center Phil Costa practiced Monday for the first time since going out with a back injury on the first series in the season opener against the New York Giants.

He worked with the first team and appears ready to step back into the starting lineup for Ryan Cook, who replaced him the past three games.

Though Cook missed practiced on Monday because of a lingering hamstring issue, Costa’s possible return to the lineup could give the line comfort and improve the communication, hopefully resulting in better protection and few false starts.

Dunbar activated

The Cowboys signed former North Texas running back Lance Dunbar to the active roster from the practice squad and signed receiver Raymond Radway to the practice squad.

Dunbar, an undrafted free agent who played in high school at Haltom, was added to help the kickoff return unit. He will also be a gunner on punt coverage, but his biggest role is on kickoff returns where Felix Jones ranks 24th in the NFL, averaging 21.5 yards per return.

The Cowboys’ average starting field position on kickoff is the 19-yard line, ranking 31st in the league.

"They just want somebody to make plays, get past the 20," Dunbar said Monday.

"I think I can do that. This is my time. I can’t let it pass."

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