Jay Ratliff IR decision on hold

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will not place nose tackle Jay Ratliff on injured reserve until they have to.

Ratliff had sports hernia surgery Thursday in Philadelphia and faces a three- to six-week recovery period, which will keep him out for the remainder of the regular season. Ratliff could return only if the Cowboys make a playoff run. Terence Newman had similar surgery in 2008 and missed five games.

"We're going to give him every opportunity to stay on the 53 and be a part of our football team," coach Jason Garrett said Friday. "He's an outstanding football player. He's dealt with a lot of injuries this year, but when he played he played very well. We know what he's all about, his passion for the game, love for the game. He's a warrior and that's the way he's always played throughout his career."

Ratliff suffered the injury on Nov. 18 against Cleveland but was able to remain in that game. He has not played or practiced since.

Garrett said Ratliff attempted to get on the field a few times, but could not function.

Garrett said there was no regret in not having the surgery sooner.

"What you want to do in all situations is exhaust every opportunity before surgery with anybody in any circumstance," Garrett said. "You don't want to prematurely do surgery. You want to make sure he has a chance to get healthy with normal rehab. ... We felt like this was the best thing to do at this time."