Bengals contacted Jay Ratliff

In the hours immediately after losing defensive tackle Geno Atkins to a season-ending knee injury, the Cincinnati Bengals contacted former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff to determine his timetable for returning to the NFL, league sources told ESPN.

Ratliff visited the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins this week and has not yet decided where to resume his career after the Cowboys released him two weeks ago, citing a failed physical.

The teams interested In Ratliff believe he could return to the field in two to four weeks.

While this is not ideal for the Bengals -- who need an immediate replacement for Atkins, one of the league's premier defensive players -- they have not completely eliminated the possibility.

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is familiar with Ratliff from having coached him in Dallas.

But as he decides his future, Ratliff seems more likely to sign with one of the three teams he has already visited.

Ratliff has not played in nearly a year after suffering a groin injury that led him to eventually having surgery last December for a sports hernia.

Ratliff also faces charges of driving while intoxicated stemming from an arrest earlier this year, six weeks after then-Cowboys backup Josh Brent's crash, which killed teammate Jerry Brown Jr. Ratliff's trial has been postponed until February.