Jay Ratliff has high ankle sprain

Updated: August 26, 2012, 3:39 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff left Saturday night's preseason game on crutches with a high ankle sprain, raising concerns about his availability for the regular-season opener Sept. 5.

An MRI on Sunday confirmed Ratliff has a high ankle sprain. The amount of time he could miss hasn't been determined, but his status for the opener against the New York Giants is in question.

Ratliff was playing his first game of the preseason after missing the past two games because of plantar fasciitis.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones termed Ratliff's injury as a sprain but voiced concerned about the injury given the approaching regular season.

"Well, yeah, concerned about any injury getting to that we're within 10 days of playing, so you have to be concerned about it," Jones said.

Ratliff just had returned to practice full time late last week and was making his debut Saturday along with injured defensive starters Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher.

In the game, Ratliff had one tackle. He was active and showed a good push against the run and the pass.

Safeties Danny McCray (stinger), Matt Johnson (hamstring) and running back DeMarco Murray (hand) suffered minor injuries. McCray said he lost some feeling in his left forearm after a collision with safety Gerald Sensabaugh.

Of course the biggest injury is to Ratliff, one of the Cowboys' most valuable defensive players. Without him, the Cowboys could use Josh Brent or Sean Lissemore in his place at nose tackle. When Ratliff was out with plantar fasciitis, Brent and Lissemore shared first-team snaps at nose tackle.

Ratliff hasn't missed a game since the 2007 season, when he was inactive for the regular-season finale at Washington.

The Cowboys' nose tackle has made 64 consecutive starts since, tied with Oakland's Tommy Kelly for the second-longest streak among active defensive linemen in the NFL.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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