Daily Archives: October 23rd, 2013

OK, MORE SUSPENSE: Ex-Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff cleared to play, looking for a new home

OK, MORE SUSPENSE - Ex-Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff cleared to play, looking for a new home

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys last week, has been medically cleared to return to action, according to his agent.

Agent Mark Slough sent a letter to 31 NFL teams, advising them of Ratliff’s availability. Slough said in the letter than Dr. William Meyers, who performed sports hernia surgery on Ratliff in December, cleared Ratliff to play Wednesday after an examination in Philadelphia.

“Jay will now continue his individual workouts in Dallas and work hard to regain further strength and improve his conditioning,” Slough said in his letter to front-office executives. “His goal is to be ready to [work out] for clubs in a couple of weeks. He currently weighs 304 [pounds] and is in very good shape … just needs to take his workouts up a notch.”

Ratliff, 32, played in only six games last season because of injuries, but he is a four-time Pro Bowler.

RELATED: Jason Garrett wishes Jay Ratliff nothing but the best

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett declined get into a discussion regarding disconnect between last week’s decision to cut former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jay ‘Ratliff for health reasons and yesterday’s announcement that he had been cleared to play immediately and soliciting offers from other teams.

“We made a decision like we talked about last week that we felt was in the best interest of our football team,” Garrett said. “And we wish Jay nothing but the best going forward.”

Ratliff has not played football since undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia last December. He missed all of training camp and the preseason because of complications with his rehab. The Cowboys placed him the physically unable to perform list to start the season with hope of him returning after six weeks.

The Cowboys released him last week because it was believed that Ratliff was no where near close to being ready to return to the field and would not likely be healthy again until 2014.

That was then, before Ratliff met with the doctor who performed his surgery and was cleared to play, roughly one week later.

“Certainly health was a huge factor in that decision,” Garrett said. He hasn’t been able to play for us for the last year and a half. That was the primary reason we made that decision and again, we wish him nothing but the best going forward.” 

What’s also played a factor in the decision is the friction between Ratliff and the team for much of the last year. He had his surgery and rehab with private doctors because of disagreements with the team’s medical and training staff.

He also had physical altercation in the locker room with owner Jerry Jones last season because he erroneously felt his commitment was being questioned.

This was one year after Jones signed him to a five-year, $40-million contract extension in 2011.

The Dallas Cowboys showed patience with Ratliff because his great play and passion in practice and games over the years.

With him now cleared to return to the field, in what has proven to be a clear disconnect in communication between the Cowboys and Ratliff’s camp, last week’s decision was certain evidence that the patience has run out.

“Again, from a health standpoint, we didn’t feel like he was ready to go. We just felt like that was the best decision for our club,” Garrett said.

RELATED: Jerry Jones expresses disappointment over Jay Ratliff drama

There is obvious lingering disappointment among the Dallas Cowboys brass regarding former defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and drama surrounded his release week for health reasons and yesterday’s announcement that he had been cleared to play immediately and was soliciting offers from other teams.

Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett declined to go into detail regarding the disconnect between Ratliff too injured to play for the Dallas Cowboys and being free resume football activities with other teams a week later.

Jerry Jones alluded to pending legal issues for his silence stemming from the five-year, $40 contract extension Ratliff signed in 2011.

“I won’t be commenting about this because of the fact there are legal issues involved here relative to the league and otherwise,” Jones said. “But all agreements require people to abide by the agreements. That’s why you have legal issues. We obviously have an agreement with him, had an agreement with him, and to the extent that you have some concern within that, that’s why you have legal.

But Jones however couldn’t help but acknowledged there was certain disappointment with the Ratliff drama.

“I don’t want to comment because of the legal aspect of it,” Jones said. “I had said earlier that I thought I was going to focus on good things, the contribution that he made here, we all need him real bad, this team needs him read bad, needed him real bad, was disappointed that he wasn’t playing, disappointing that the resources that are involved here aren’t going to guy out here making plays.”

The Dallas Cowboys released him last week because it was believed that Ratliff was no where near close to being ready to return to the field and would not likely be healthy again until 2014.

2013-2014 GAMEDAY PRIMER: Cowboys vs. Lions | Detroit boasts big air threat

2013-2014 GAMEDAY PRIMER - Cowboys vs. Lions - Detroit boasts big air threat

Dallas Cowboys:

Another battle between two even teams, as the 4-3 Cowboys prepare for the 4-3 Lions. They may not have played Detroit since 2011, but the Cowboys still probably have a taste of that defeat in their mouths. They squandered a 24-point third quarter lead and lost the last time the two teams played, and Tony Romo has to remember the two interceptions he threw that were returned for touchdowns. His three interceptions that day are just two fewer than he has all season this year.

Romo’s hot start this year has a lot to do with why the Cowboys are sitting atop the NFC East through seven weeks. He’s got a 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio and is tied for second in the league in touchdown passes with 15, with rookie Terrance Williams catching at least one each of the last three weeks. He’s also got his own version of Calvin Johnson in Dez Bryant, who’s bested Johnson in every major category other than touchdowns, which they’re tied in with six apiece. But Romo hasn’t really been needed a whole lot the last couple weeks.

The Cowboys’ maligned defense early on has now allowed 19 combined points its past two weeks to two division foes. That defense features a new face every week on the defensive line, and somehow it’s working. Jarius Wynn was signed last week, suited up and contributed with half a sack. They added former second-round pick Marvin Austin to the defensive tackle mix. Six current players on the defensive line weren’t with the team when training camp began, but they’ve still gotten pressure on the quarterback, thanks in large part to the consistency of Jason Hatcher (six sacks) and George Selvie (4.5).

The improved play in the secondary has helped the pressure on the quarterback. The corners will need to continue that if they want to stop Johnson, who, after injuries slowed him early on, went off for 155 yards and two touchdowns last week. Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick combined to hold DeSean Jackson to just three catches and 21 yards last week. They’ll need to keep that up, and the Cowboys’ could use a second straight game with 100 yards from Bryant. They may also get another jolt if either DeMarcus Ware or DeMarco Murray can return from injuries. 

Detroit Lions:

A 4-3 record goes much further in the NFC East than it does in the NFC North. The Cowboys and Lions are tremendously similar. Going past the obvious in their records, the Lions and Cowboys both have exactly 49 penalties, a plus-five turnover margin and are in the top 10 in the league in scoring average. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Lions play in a division where 4-3 is only good for second place. They’re one of two four-win teams in the NFC North, along with Green Bay and Chicago.

There are only two quarterbacks in the NFC with at least 2,000 passing yards, and they’ll both be playing this weekend. Matt Stafford leads the NFC with 2,129 passing yards, totaling 119 more than Romo. He hasn’t been quite as accurate, however, as Romo’s competing 68.3 percent of his passes compared to just 61.4 percent for Stafford. It will help for Stafford that he has a healthier star receiver to throw to now in Johnson, who missed a game earlier this year. Johnson’s still accumulated six touchdowns in six games and three 100-yard receiving games despite playing banged up.

The Lions have been needing to put up a ton of points to win their four games this year. Every game they’ve won, they’ve scored at least 27 points. They’ve allowed at least 20 points in six of seven games this year and currently sit 31st in the league, allowing 397.1 yards per game (the Cowboys’ defense isn’t much better, allowing 393.9 a game). Despite putting Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the middle of their line, the Lions are just 27th in the league in sacks. They are, however, getting enough pressure on the quarterback to get 10 interceptions, which is good to tie them for third in the league.

The plus-five turnover ratio has put the Lions’ offense in better position, and Stafford and company are delivering. The Lions are No. 8 in the league in scoring average (26.6) and No. 7 in total offense per game (386.4). They feature more explosion at running back, as Reggie Bush joined the team and is fourth in the league in total yards from scrimmage (731). The Cowboys faced the toughest in the league in LeSean McCoy and took care of business, but if they take a breather this week, Bush and Johnson will make them pay. Bush’s backup, Joique Bell, also works in and has 478 yards from scrimmage.

DALLAS COWBOYS AWARDS: Sean Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

DALLAS COWBOYS AWARDS - Sean Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Week - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ top tackler of the season earned the team’s first NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors this year for his performance in last weekend’s 17-3 win against the Eagles.

Sean Lee was given the honor after recording one of three Cowboys interceptions in the win and leading the team with 11 combined tackles, including one for a loss, marking the fifth straight game he’s led the team in tackles.

The interception was Lee’s second of the year, and it’s also the second time in Lee’s career that he’s been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He last was given the honor his rookie season for his performance against the Colts on Dec. 5, 2010, in an overtime win against Peyton Manning. Lee recorded two interceptions that game, including one for a touchdown.

DALLAS COWBOYS AWARDS - Sean Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Week - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys - Sean Lee INT vs Eagles

That 2010 season included three NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for Cowboys players. DeMarcus Ware and Bryan McCann were both named defensive players of the week, in addition to Lee.  

The last Cowboys player to take home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors before Lee this week was Brandon Carr last season for his performance against the Steelers. No Cowboys player won the award in 2011.

Dwayne Harris is the only other player to be given player of the week honors this year. He’s been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice this year, once for his returning skills and once for his coverage skills.

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | Lance Dunbar returns

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Lance Dunbar returns - DeMarco Murray limited

IRVING, Texas – There were some encouraging signs for the Dallas Cowboys today as they took the field for their first practice in preparation of the Detroit Lions.

It remains to be seen if DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware will be able to contribute in Detroit this weekend, but both players were at practice. Murray dressed out in shoulder pads and a helmet and was active in the open portion of the Cowboys’ practice, though he did wear sweatpants instead of football pants.

Ware did not dress out, but he did work out with the team trainers using conditioning cords. He seemed to be moving well, though it’s unclear how far he has progressed with his quad injury.

“We’ll see what they do today. They seem to have gotten better over the last couple of days,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his morning press conference. “They might warm up a little bit today and we’ll see if they can practice.”

Lance Dunbar returned to the practice field, as predicted by Garrett.

“We’re going to warm him up today and see how he responds,” Garrett said. “He’s done well with his running the last few days.”

Miles Austin and Dez Bryant both dressed out for practice, though neither receiver participated in individual drills with the rest of the wide receivers.

Newly-acquired defensive tackle Marvin Austin was dressed out and participating in the newly-available No. 90.

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