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Speaking Up

!Since his 2007 deal, Ratliff has the second-most sacks of any NFL defensive tackle.

again this week. What if that long layoff from such a fundamental exercise somehow takes a toll on his game this year? What if he tears a muscle performing a lift to which his body has grown unaccustomed? 

I'm not trying to be a fear monger here, and I genuinely expect Ratliff to be as excellent as ever this season. The possibility of injury or declining play is always out there, though. It's what drives emergent seventh-round picks to take team-friendly contracts as soon as they can, to get a little security. First-round picks, like Haynesworth, are not burdened with the same financial pressure, so they can wait for free agency to see who will pay the most.  

Before he plays a down in the NFL, Detroit first-round D-lineman Ndamukong Suh will sign a contract with some $35 million in guarantees. Meanwhile Ratliff, fresh off two Pro Bowls, is still working on the five-year deal worth a maximum of $20.5 million he signed back in 2007. In the two seasons since he trails only Minnesota's Kevin Williams in sacks by a defensive tackle, just one back with 13.5. And those came as a nose tackle, the position Haynesworth is so afraid to play. Unlike Williams, Ratliff's not facing a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. And unlike Haynesworth, he's not a pain to have around.  

Ratliff's been doing the right things and saying the right things and representing the Cowboys well since he got here in 2005. Maybe it's not this year and maybe it's not next year, but when it's time for Ratliff to go to the source he deserves to be rewarded for his patience. 

Holla at me.                   

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