OXNARD, Calif. –Nose tackle Jay Ratliff was fully suited out and participating in practice during Thursday's afternoon session, his first work with teammates since training camp began on July 30.
The four-time Pro Bowl honoree has been battling plantar fasciitis for months. He sat out all of the team's Organized Team Activity and minicamp practices earlier this summer. He had been rehabbing his foot and doing conditioning work in previous days.
Ratliff was performing individual drills early in Thursday's session, but was almost entirely held out of team drills as the Cowboys monitored his injury. He is not expected to play in Monday's preseason opener at Oakland.
"We want to see him practice a little bit," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We're hopeful that he can get back out there and start easing his way into it, put his shoulder pads on, move around. He's done a good job in the walkthroughs, but you don't want to take backward steps with these guys by saying, 'We need him out there today,' and then you lose them for two weeks, particularly guys as experienced and as productive as he's been throughout his career. So, you try to be a little cautious, but you want him moving forward to moving back.
"It's literally a day-to-day evaluation … a big part of those kinds of injuries is the communication part. You have to communicate with us and make sure we make the right judgments together."
Though plantar fasciitis is an injury that can linger or go away and come back, the Cowboys are confident their handling of Ratliff will negate any lasting effects this season.
"I feel good about Jay," team Vice President Stephen Jones said earlier in the week. "I feel real good about Jay. Not worried about that a bit."