Jay Ratliff’s play at nose tackle has been a bright spot for the Cowboys over the years, but an injury helped cause him to play the lowest percentage of snaps in his career in 2011.
That led some people to wonder if they might get more out of Ratliff if they moved him to defensive end to limit the wear and tear on his body. The Cowboys have never indicated that they were moving in that direction and defensive line coach Brian Baker explained to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com how they will try to keep Ratliff fresher this season.
“He will take all the third downs unless somebody proves they’re a better pass rusher inside,” Baker said. “Until that happens, if he’s getting a little worn [down] we’ll save him for third down.”
The only flaw with the idea is that it would keep Ratliff off the field on first and second downs. That might not turn out to be a great problem, but the Cowboys would be wise to at least consider other configurations if it means keeping one of their best defenders on the field. The best thing of all for the Cowboys defense would be the emergence of another consistent source of pass rush beside Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware, but a healthy year from Ratliff isn’t far behind.
Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore would stand to get more snaps if Ratliff does see fewer of them this season.