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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Veteran Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jay Ratliff announced on Monday that he is "a couple of weeks" away from returning to action for the first time since suffering a groin injury a year ago that eventually led to him to undergo sports hernia surgery.
"I just think a couple of weeks out and get into football shape, get my legs under me and I'm pretty sure I'll be ready to go," Ratliff told ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show" on Monday.
"I just feel like I have a lot left in the tank, and I want to be here and I want to play at a high level. I haven't won a playoff game; I haven't won a Super Bowl. Those things right there are the fuel that drives me. When I came into the game in Year 1 that was what I wanted, and I haven't received that yet and that's what I'm playing for."
Ratliff, who signed a one-year deal with the Bears last Saturday, explained why he chose Chicago over a handful of other potential suitors. According to league sources, Ratliff visited the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, plus had a conversation with the Cincinnati Bengals before agreeing to join the Bears.
"I thought it was a first-class organization, the way they handled their business," Ratliff said. "The accountability of the locker room, the seriousness about the game of football and of course it's a historical organization. I definitely believe they are in the hunt but they've got to fight for it and I'm all up for that. I just felt extremely comfortable here with the defense. I look forward to coming in."
Ratliff added: "I talked with the training staff and the medical staff there and feel comfortable with them. They believe in me, I believe in them. When I get there that first day, we're going to work. I know there is a lot of hard work ahead of me and things I've got to push through and that's what I intend to do and I will."
The belief is Ratliff could be healthy enough to face his ex-team when the Bears host the Cowboys on Monday, December 9. Dallas released Ratliff two weeks ago, citing a failed physical and reports have surfaced regarding a certain degree of acrimony that exists between the defensive tackle and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
However, Ratliff downplayed the notion he has the Bears' upcoming game versus the Cowboys circled on his calendar.
"The whole thing for me is not about a revenge thing or anything like that because if you sign or go anyplace for that reason after that game, what next?" Ratliff asked. "What's the real motivation? That is not it. I could really care less who is on the schedule or who is in front of me for that matter. There are some things I want to get done and I'm determined to get them done. I signed with this team, Dallas just so happened to be on the schedule, so be it. I'll deal with it when the time comes."
The terms of the one-year deal makes this a low-risk proposition on the part of the Bears, who have a pressing need at defensive tackle after Henry Melton and Nate Collins each suffered season-ending ACL injuries. But the stakes are much higher for Ratliff, 32, as he tries to revitalize his career, either in Chicago, or with another NFL team in 2014. Ratliff is scheduled to be a free agent after the season.
"I don't want to go from team to team and I know what comes along with that," Ratliff said. "You have to prove your worth, prove that you belong there. I know that there is still a long road ahead of me and a lot of hard work and that is not something I will shy away from. I still have to come into a new locker room and earn the respect of my teammates."