Jay Ratliff could be out for a while

OXNARD, Calif. -- When Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked Wednesday when starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring) would return, the response wasn't a good one.

It appears Ratliff won't return this week, and next week is in question as well.

"He's working and he's in rehab and doing all the stuff that he needs to do, but we don't anticipate him being on the field until next week and it might be a couple of weeks," Garrett said. "Again, it's still early. We play the extra preseason game, we're here a week earlier than everybody else. We're going to err on the side of caution with those guys."

Ratliff underwent surgery toward the end of last season for a sports hernia. And while cleared to practice at the start of training camp, team officials planned to bring him along slowly. But Ratliff injured his hamstring during last Sunday's conditioning test. The good news is that Ratliff passed the conditioning test, but the bad new is he can't practice right now.

Following Monday's walkthrough practice, Ratliff was asked when he would return and said politely he'd rather not talk about it.

Garrett said the hamstring injury is the holdup in Ratliff's return to the practice field and not any lingering effects from the sports hernia surgery.

"Hard to specify exactly what it is, most recently it is the hamstring," Garrett said. "But we were going to be cautious with him in regards to his groin and the other issues that he had last year. He looks good, he's working hard and he's got to take it day-by-day and hopefully he'll be back soon."