Jay Ratliff expected back for season opener

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he expects to see starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff return in time for the 2013 regular-season opener.

Ratliff strained his hamstring during the Cowboys’ annual conditioning run in Oxnard, Calif. Team officials who witnessed the run said Ratliff looked good and continued running after he injured himself.

However, Ratliff hasn’t practiced during training camp and remains on the physically unable to perform list while doing some work in teaching sessions at half speed.

“I’m very comfortable with what we’re doing,” Jones told ESPNDallas.com recently. “Jay is improving. I know that he’s enthusiastic about his coaches, the prospects of this team, and I know how bad he wants to be on the field, both he and the trainers. Everybody said he’ll be back playing in the opener. That’s the way I look at it.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Ratliff is progressing, but his availability for the two remaining preseason games appears doubtful. Garrett has said it's not a requirement for an injured veteran player to participate in a preseason game once he recovers, given the experience of that particular player.

Ratliff had a handful of on-the-field rehab sessions during training camp practices in Oxnard, Calif. During three days of open access periods for the media this week, Ratliff wasn't on the field doing rehab work.

"We'll see. He's still making progress," Garrett said. "He's getting stronger, and that's a good thing. He needs to start making some strides going forward, and we anticipate that going forward."