Sources: Cowboys won't rush Ratliff return

IRVING, Texas -- Jay Ratliff can be activated off the physically unable to perform list after Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins, but the Dallas Cowboys will not rush their defensive tackle back on the field.

According to sources, the Cowboys do not anticipate activating Ratliff next week, and the team needs to see firsthand what kind of condition he is in. Ratliff suffered a hamstring injury in the team's conditioning test in Oxnard, Calif., in July and also spent training camp continuing his rehab from sports-hernia surgery last December.

Coach Jason Garrett said it is "hard to determine" whether Ratliff is days or weeks away from returning to the field.

Since the season started, Ratliff has done most of his rehab outside the team's Valley Ranch complex. He did most of his rehab away from the team in the offseason and was not ready for the opening of training camp. In August, Ratliff alluded to tension with the training staff in his only comments of the summer.

The Cowboys have as early as Monday or as late as Nov. 4 to activate Ratliff off PUP. Once they do that, they have another three weeks during which they can add him to the 53-man roster, keep him out for the season, or cut him.

"Hopefully he's making more and more progress to get closer to practicing," Garrett said. "He hasn't practiced football in a little while. The first step is to get back on the practice field and see how he does from there."

Two years ago, linebacker Bruce Carter, a rookie at the time, was activated off PUP and added to the active roster in his first week back from a knee injury he suffered at North Carolina.

Ratliff's age (32) and recent injury history (he missed 10 games last season with ankle and sports-hernia injuries) make it virtually impossible for the Cowboys to expect him to play in the first week he is eligible, Oct. 20 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The latest game in which Ratliff could return is Nov. 28, Thanksgiving, against the Oakland Raiders.