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Mailbag: When He Returns, Should Jay Ratliff Be A Situational Player?


When he returns, should Jay Ratliff be a situational player, used on passing downs, and let the other nose tackles get beat up on run downs?

Nick: This is a high ankle sprain. Let's not act like he's been out for two years. I think Ratliff returns to the role he's had the last four seasons. I wouldn't change much.

Josh: Well, it's not like he should be a backup, or anything. He's the Cowboys' best defensive lineman, so you want him on the field more than any of the others. That said, nose tackle is a really physical position, and he doesn't need to play every down. I think you want him fresh for passing situations, important running downs and the fourth quarter.


The defense seems to be tackling better. Did they do something different during training camp?

Nick: They didn't do a lot of tackling drills. But they have stressed on overall technique. And when you're playing with technique, have better awareness and get to the right spots, you're going to naturally tackle better. I think that's why we're seeing that, and it was evident in the preseason, too.

Josh: Well, they do practice in pads basically every chance they get, which should make them a more physical defense, even if they don't tackle to the ground. But I think it also has a lot to do with the defense getting younger and more athletic at middle linebacker and in the secondary over the last year or two.

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