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Where the defensive ends stack up

8/4/2011

SAN ANTONIO -- Waiting in the wings on the defensive line are Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher.

Whenever the newly-signed players can return to the practice field, it creates an interesting situation for the line.

Last year, the three starting defensive linemen were Igor Olshansky and Spears at end and Jay Ratliff at nose tackle. The Cowboys tried to bring back Stephen Bowen, who left to sign a deal with the Redskins, but now have signed three ends, including the run-stopping Coleman.

There is no question Ratliff is the starter at nose tackle. But the starting defensive end spots are seem uncertain with how new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is using his scheme.

But during early practices here, Ratliff moved across the line of scrimmage. On Wednesday, Ratliff blitzed off the tackle spot along side DeMarcus Ware.

"We're unpredictable," Ratliff said. "We're coming from different positions and I'm a nose lining up at linebacker, and that's fun."

Coleman is new to the group and mainly plays first and second downs. Could that mean either Spears or Olshansky come off the bench?

"We will put the best players out there every Sunday," line coach Brian Baker said. "I don't know what those numbers are going to be."

It seems Spears had a much better season than what was first believed and that's part of the reason he received a five-year contract.

"I think Spears will have a chance to elevate his game," Baker said. "He's got some wiggle."

Baker can also add Sean Lissemore to the end position, and se he's got Josh Brent backing up Ratliff at nose.

Where everybody fits is unknown.