Jones thinks Ratliff’s in “the prime of his career”

AP

Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff hasn’t done much in camp, and won’t, but owner Jerry Jones doesn’t seem particularly concerned about his absence.

The veteran lineman hasn’t practiced since straining a hamstring in the pre-camp conditioning test, and isn’t expected to work much until they return to Texas.

“Well, I think that I have to urge everybody to put it in perspective,” Jones said, via Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “I’m interested in him being in shape. I’m interested in him having the best chance to play as much as he can during the season. I don’t have any desire to see him make a lot of plays in preseason. I know what he can do.

“So our goal should be – and I know it’s his – to get him out there so he’s lined up [in the regular season opener] against the Giants and will stay on the field all the way through the season, relative to any injuries or anything like that. It’s unique, because we know what he is and we see what he is physically right now. He’s very capable of playing at the level that he’s always played at. We’ve just got to not get in a hurry there.”

Ratliff missed 10 games last year, while bothered with foot and ankle issues along with a sports hernia. But Jones seems convinced the soon-to-be 32-year-old can still be an effective part when he comes back.

“His style of play will allow him, if he’s healthy, to be what he is,” Jones said. “And he should be, from the standpoint of his physical health, he should be in the prime of his career. In the prime of his career.

“Arguably, when a guy is 30 years old, he’s at his strongest. Thirty-one years old, he can be at his strongest. There’s no reason in the world we handicap 31 and 32 because we’re looking at how much is left past that. As far as looking at the physical attributes of the player, he can be every bit of the player strength-wise or effectiveness in his thirties as he was at 28 or 29.”

When a player is as established as Ratliff is, preseason snaps aren’t much of a concern. He’s been around enough and done enough to know the changes the Cowboys are putting into place, and they need him well in the fall and winter more than they need him on the field now.