Die-hard Dallas Cowboys fans everywhere are chomping at the bit to see Rob Ryan’s starting defense on the field together, but that will have to wait.
In Saturday night’s 20-19 win over the St. Louis Rams, the Cowboys lost nose tackle Jay Ratliff to what is being described as a “high ankle sprain.” Ratliff was making his preseason debut after missing all of training camp with a foot injury.
Dallas’ four time Pro Bowler was flying all over the field and wrecking havoc like the Cowboys and fans are accustomed to seeing before he suffered the injury in the second quarter of the game.
All injuries are different of course, but high ankle sprains will normally sideline a player for about two-to-four weeks. Ratliff’s injury isn’t considered serious at the moment, but there hasn’t been any official injury report sent out from the team.
Anthony Spencer, who also made his preseason debut, said seeing Ratliff on crutches is “a little alarming” because Ratliff is considered a “warrior.” One thing that’s certain is that Ratliff will be sidelined for some time and that means one of the young defensive linemen will need to step up.
Earlier in the preseason the Cowboys lost former guard/center Bill Nagy to a high ankle sprain that required season ending surgery, ultimately leading to his release. I’m not saying Ratliff’s injury is to that extent but it’s something worth noticing because Ratliff has had previous foot problems.
During Ratliff’s absence I expect third-year man Josh Brent to fill in at nose tackle. Brent is a big body that plays well against the run, at 6’2” 320 lbs. he’s built like a true 3-4 nose tackle. He doesn’t possess the pass-rush ability, which Ratliff is known for.
Sean Lissemore is another player who can and should rotate in at nose tackle. I expect big things from Lissemore this season. He’s improved his technique and should turn some heads with more playing-time.
Tyrone Crawford is said to be able to fill in at nose tackle, but I haven’t seen anything from him on the field that proves he can. Coaches have raved about his pass-rush ability and tenacity throughout OTAs and training camp, but that hasn’t carried over into games yet.
Updating other injuries; rookie safety Matt Johnson will be sidelined again with a hamstring injury. Danny McCray got x-rays of his neck, which revealed no structural damage and are calling it a stinger. The Cowboys will follow up with an MRI tomorrow.
Follow Jesus on Twitter @SSgtFlo1