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Jay Ratliff's injury is opportunity for backups

IRVING, Texas – Jay Ratliff did not practice this week because of a high ankle sprain, but the Cowboys were reluctant to rule out their nose tackle.

Either they want the New York Giants to think he can play with the injury or at least prepare as if he will play Wednesday at MetLife Stadium.

“I mean, Jay Ratliff is the best nose tackle in football, so obviously you want him in there,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “Does he make a big difference not being in there? Sure he does. But we’ve got good players behind him. Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent are two guys who are really good football players so there’s a big opportunity for them to step up and play. You can’t take a person like Jay out of the lineup and expect to not affect you some, because it will.”

But how much?

Ratliff saw only about a quarter of work in the preseason as he recovered from a case of plantar fasciitis that kept him out for the offseason, too. Brent started the preseason games in Ratliff’s absence, but that’s in part because Lissemore had to play defensive end in Jason Hatcher’s absence due to a hamstring injury.

According to the depth chart in the team’s media release, Lissemore is the backup nose tackle.

The coaches raved about his work last year, saying he was the most productive defensive player in the snaps he played. They wanted to get him more work in 2012.

He should get his chance on Wednesday.