Notes: Ratliff Back, Team Indoors Again

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff practiced Saturday for the first time in a week, having rested a sore hip that kept him out of the Cowboys' preseason opener Thursday against the Broncos.

Ratliff said afterward that his hip felt good. He spent several minutes after practice working on technique with rookie offensive linemen Kevin Kowalski, Bill Nagy and Pepa Letuli.

Without Ratliff and linebacker Keith Brooking (hamstring), the Broncos rushed six times for 40 yards on the Cowboys' starters.

"He's the heart of the defense," Ryan said. "He's right in the middle of the defense."

Indoors Again Coming off 40 straight days of 100-degree temperatures in North Texas, overnight rain forced the team inside to Cowboys Stadium instead of their previously scheduled outdoor practice at Valley Ranch.

Go figure.

"I opened up the curtains this morning, very early, and all of a sudden it was 68 (degrees) and raining," head coach Jason Garrett said. "I said to the players, 'How big was the group prayer last night?' We quickly adjusted."

Garrett said former Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown was helping direct a youth football event at the stadium on Saturday, but the team was able to squeeze in a workout from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

"Larry was great," Garrett said. "He said, 'What do you need us to do?' I said we needed a couple hours. It was great to know that somebody a part of the Cowboys family helped us out and made it a good day of practice for us."

The Cowboys plan to practice at Valley Ranch on Thursday with the San Diego Chargers, their next preseason opponent.

Quick Flex

Linebacker Kenwin Cummings' four-point stance off the line of scrimmage should have been the giveaway for Rob Ryan's nod to Cowboys Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry.

Ryan called for Landry's famed "flex defense" formation on the opening play against the Broncos.

"Me and Jason had been batting that idea around for a long time," Ryan said. "And with the alumni coming into town, we wanted to respect them by lining up in the flex."

McGee On The SEC The swirling rumors of Texas A&M's possible switch to the Southeastern Conference caught former Aggies quarterback Stephen McGee by surprise.

"I'm shocked, I'm not going to lie," McGee said. "It's going to be different. Hopefully we can still play Texas every year. I'm a Texas kid and growing up here that's always been a big thing. I know in my family half of us went to A&M and the other half went to Texas.

"It's going to be a whole new life, especially for the football program. The SEC is very competitive. It's going to be a great conference and I think it's going to be a great opportunity."

Cowboys Release Two The Cowboys continued to churn the bottom of their 90-man preseason roster Saturday, releasing rookie free agent offensive lineman Jose Acuna and rookie free agent cornerback Alex Ibiloye.

Acuna did not play in the preseason opener against Denver. Ibiloye appeared with the backup units.

On Friday, the team released injured wide receiver Titus Ryan and signed rookie free agent wide receiver Curtis Clay from TCU.

The Cowboys can trim to 75 players on Aug. 30. The final cut to 53 players is Sept. 3.  

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