IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' Jay Ratliff underwent surgery for a sports hernia on Thursday in Philadelphia, and a team source said the nose tackle "most likely" will be placed on injured reserve.
Ratliff has missed the last three games with a groin strain suffered Nov. 18 against Cleveland. He was able to return to the game against the Browns, but he has not practiced or played since. He missed the first four games of the season with a high ankle sprain suffered in the preseason and missed the offseason with a case of plantar fasciitis.
The normal recovery is 3 to 6 weeks, which could mean Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowler, could return for a possible playoff run. The surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers, who performed similar surgery on former Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman in 2009. Newman missed five games in his recovery.
On Wednesday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Ratliff had a second opinion that confirmed the team's initial diagnosis.
With Ratliff out at least through the regular season and Josh Brent on the non-football injury list as a result of last Saturday's car accident that led to the death of Jerry Brown, the Cowboys have Sean Lissemore as their starting nose tackle with Robert Callaway, who was called up from the practice squad on Saturday, and Brian Schaefering, who was signed Wednesday, as backups.
This has been a frustrating season for Ratliff because of the injuries, and he had a flare-up with owner and general manager Jerry Jones after the Dec. 2 game vs. Philadelphia in which he had to be restrained.
Ratliff's future with the team could be in jeopardy because of the salary cap. He is set to count $7 million against the cap in 2013. While he was selected to the last four Pro Bowls, his sack totals will have decreased for the fifth straight season. He did not have a sack in his six games this season. He finished the year with 25 tackles and 10 quarterback pressures.
Ratliff is the ninth major contributor the Cowboys will lose to either injury or accident in Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Orlando Scandrick, Kenyon Coleman, Phil Costa, Chris Jones and Brent.