IRVING, Texas – Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan stood in front of Jay Ratliff's picture outside the locker room to discuss the upcoming matchup against the Ravens.
Ryan is clearly excited about the addition of the Pro Bowler to a defense that must defend a dynamic running back in Ray Rice and playmakers on the outside in Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, while also preparing for a no-huddle offense that Baltimore seems to perfect at home.
"We've exclusively worked on no huddle all week," Ryan said, "so if they're doing it, that's fine. That's the way it is. But you have to address it. It's like nowadays some people run the Wildcat, all this stuff. You have to address it or you're not preparing your team. We over-prepared for it, so we'll be ready to go."
Veterans who are capable of reading and adjusting are essential pieces when facing a lively no-huddle offense. Ryan believes he has these leaders in linebacker Sean Lee and safety Gerald Sensabaugh.
He said the presence of two athletic inside linebackers in Lee and Bruce Carter, who aren't a liability in coverage, should also give the Cowboys an advantage other teams don't have against the Ravens, while the addition of Ratliff will provide more depth and a chance to give defensive linemen a breather.
Ryan said he'd like to play him as much as possible, but he knows defensive line coach Brian Baker will monitor Ratliff.
"You put that guy in the middle of your defense, you're going to be a heck of a lot tougher," Ryan said. "He looks fantastic. I'm sure he's hurt and banged up. But I think keeping him out of action for four weeks and an open day, we've got to play him regardless because he's chomping at the bit."
Ratliff will still be able to rotate on or off the field at the Cowboys' discretion, despite the fast-paced tempo of the Ravens' offense.
Teams who run the no huddle still need to provide the defense a chance to substitute players, which also allows the defense to slow the game down. Ryan put the time in at practice to defend the no huddle because the former Cleveland defensive coordinator knows what the Ravens can do when they got on a roll.
"If they get in a rhythm, historically, if they hit a big play, they're running up and trying to hit another big play," Ryan said. "They're like a prize fighter. They hit you with a right, here comes a left. So it's coming right at you, fast. We've worked hard at it, so I think we'll be ready for it."
Ryan will also make sure the officials give the Cowboys adequate time to adjust.
"I'll be out there on the field making sure they get it right," he said.