OXNARD, Calif. – Questions abound at Cowboys training camp about defensive tackle Jay Ratliff's durability for 2013.
It's a fair question at this point. Ratliff missed 10 games in 2012 with a multitude of injuries, and he was stop-and-go during OTA's and minicamp. The ninth-year defender has been sidelined with a hamstring strain since the Cowboys arrived in Oxnard.
However much that might concern the Cowboys' fanbase, it doesn't register on the playing field. Rod Marinelli, Ratliff's new coach along the defensive line, shrugged off the question of whether he worries about his anchor man's health.
"I don't. What I saw with him in the offseason – he's going to be something else in this (system)," Marinelli said. "I feel really good about him. We've just got to get him back on the field and get his work in now, and he will get his work."
Last season was the first time in five years Ratliff missed a game for the Cowboys, but that doesn't necessarily alleviate concerns about Ratliff's health, given the grinding nature of defensive line play. Marinelli said injuries are part of the game, but he added an interesting tidbit: the nature of Dallas' new defensive scheme might limit the strain on a defensive tackle's body.
"That's ball. But one thing I know is when you're playing a one-gap system, you're not absorbing big guys as much," he said. "You're not head-up on a guy, hammering him every down – you know, 330-pound guys. And he's a 295-pound guy who can play a little bit more on the edge. He fits this system really good." [embedded_ad]
While Marinelli waits for his starters to get back, he said he'll take the opportunity to get a closer look at his depth. The injury issues Marinelli has dealt with to this point are evidence of that.
"We've got to keep developing depth," he said. "We've got to see who can do this stuff – especially under duress. Everything you've got to do in this system is under duress, when you're tired, fatigued and worn out."