Can Cowboys duplicate Jay Ratliff's production?
Jay Ratliff, whose game is built on emotion and passion, provides the unit's soul.
Ratliff plays with a relentless effort every snap that the Cowboys will certainly miss if a high ankle sprain suffered Saturday against St. Louis keeps him out for the regular-season opener against the New York Giants.
"He's a tough guy, like everybody knows, and he's made progress since the game," Jason Garrett said of Ratliff on Monday. "He's not going to practice today and he's not going to practice tomorrow. He probably won't play in the (preseason finale against Miami on Wednesday), but we'll see how he is as we start preparing for the Giants."
If Ratliff can't play, we'll find out just how much the Cowboys miss his production. It might not be as much as you think, especially against the Giants. Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore woud probably handle most of Ratliff's nose tackle duties.
Traditionally, the Giants have been a physical team that uses the running game to slowly suffocate opponents. The reality is Ratliff hasn't been that effective against the Giants, who have averaged 124.0 yards rushing in their last eight games against the Cowboys. That's why it should come as no surprise the Giants are 6-2 against Dallas since 2008.
In the last two seasons, the Cowboys are 5-11 when they give up 100 yards rushing.
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