- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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A conversation with Cowboys defensive line coach Brian Baker revealed the team has no plans on moving Jay Ratliff from nose tackle to end.
Ratliff wore down as the season progressed because of a rib muscle strain. Baker said Ratliff played the fewest snaps percentage wise in 2011 since he's been a starter.
"Jay got hurt," Baker said. "Jay was busted up that's why we had to get him through it."
Baker said to keep Ratliff fresh, taking him off the field on some first and second downs might work because the team has confidence in the abilities of Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore to play some nose tackle.
"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."
One of the problems with the pass rush, or perceived problem, is the constant double teams Ratliff and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware face. When offenses take them out of the game, many fans wonder where Anthony Spencer or another player is to push the pocket.
But defensive coordinator Rob Ryan believes Spencer had a solid season and can't understand why people were upset about the play of the outside linebacker.
"I know everybody just looks at the bottom line on sacks or wins, and I don’t blame them," Ryan said. "But as a coach, you appreciate a guy like Anthony Spencer because he does the right thing, and he plays hard. He forces fumbles. He still rushes the passer. He gets in the move. I think he’s going to have a great year."