No Boot, But Ratliff Still On Crutches; Garrett "Hopeful"

IRVING, Texas - The high ankle sprain that forced Jay Ratliff off the field against the Rams hasn't required him to wear a walking boot, but he is still on crutches.

But coach Jason Garrett said he's day-to-day and "has a chance to practice at some point in the near future."

While Ratliff is out, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are moving closer to returning. Both players worked with resistance cords on the sideline during Monday's practice. Witten is no longer in the "idle" phase of his recovery from a spleen injury. Garrett said Austin could return to practice by the end of the week.

It's possible Ratliff could be the last of the Cowboys' starters to return from injury, as high ankle sprains often take more than four weeks to heal.

"He's a tough guy, like everybody knows," Garrett said. "He's made progress since the game ... we'll see how he is when we start preparing for the Giants.

"Hopefully he'll be ready to practice by week's end."

Garrett said he liked the way Ratliff was moving before the injury to his ankle, which is unrelated to the plantar fasciitis that limited him in the offseason.

"You could tell that he was working his way back into playing," Garrett said. "But he plays with that demeanor and that relentlessness that we love. He was playing fairly well, from what I could tell. He was playing with that passion and spirit, as well."

Ratliff returned earlier than anticipated during training camp in Oxnard, Calif., and has worked his way back into practice. Garrett praised Ratliff's work ethic off the field, and said he has progressed since Saturday.

"Again, that goes to how much he loves the game," Garrett said. "I think we saw a lot of that in a handful of plays that took place in the ballgame."

A medley of defensive linemen took time with the first team while Ratliff was out with plantar fasciitis. Garrett said the variety of defensive combinations and fronts utilized, the Cowboys should be able to manage while waiting for Ratliff to return.

He said he'd expect Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore to play more in Ratliff's place, but it's too early to know until he figures out Ratliff's availability in the coming days.

Phil Costa also returned to the field for the first portion of Monday's practice. Garrett said he'd be evaluated after practice, but it's too early to discuss Costa getting snaps in Wednesday's game.

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