In the past few days I’ve heard more about Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff than I’ve heard about him during his first three-and-a-half seasons in the NFL – combined.
I recall writing a little about Ratliff after last season because of the statistical comparisons with Isaac Sopoaga. When teams and agents are trying to determine a fair contract for a player, it becomes a lot like real estate. They look for “comps.”
Sopoaga’s agent, Ken Zuckerman, used Ratliff as a comp. After all, at the conclusion of last season, Ratliff had 34 NFL games played with 14 starts in three seasons. He recorded 50 tackles and eight sacks. Meanwhile, Sopoaga played 47 games with eight starts in three seasons. He recorded 114 tackles with three sacks.
In December, the Cowboys signed Ratliff to a five-year, $20.5 million contract with $8 million guaranteed. In February, just before he was he was scheduled for unrestricted free agent, Sopoaga signed a five-year, $20 million deal with $4.775 million guaranteed.
The Ratliff deal is looking like a bargain for the Cowboys.
“He gets you with a good push,” 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. “He defeats double teams in the running game. He splits those zone blocks. For a nose guard, he’s the best pass rusher at that position that I’ve seen. He’s quick off the ball. He uses his hands really well.”
In 10 games, Ratliff has 50 tackles, six sacks and 18 quarterback pressures. Sopoaga has 43 tackles, one sack and seven QB pressures. Sopoaga was moved this season from nose tackle to defensive end in a 3-4 or defensive tackle in a 4-3.
I asked Singletary yesterday about Sopoaga’s production.
“He’s played well,” Singletary said. “He wants to play better. We want him to play better, but he’s played pretty well.”
Is it a matter of consistency?
“I think for him, it’s a matter of continuing to know exactly where he’s supposed to be on every situation,” Singletary said. “And he’s done a better job, but he is trying to make sure that he has good leverage on every play. Sometimes he has the tendency to get high, but he’s playing better this year than I think he ever has, so that’s good too see.”
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Singletary said no decision has been finalized, but he’s leaning toward starting Chilo Rachal over Tony Wragge at right guard. He said it would be a game-time decision.
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49ers: WR Josh Morgan (groin), WR Arnaz Battle (foot) and S Dashon Goldson (knee) are out. LB Patrick Willis (illness), RB Michael Robinson (stinger), CB Tarell Brown (neck strain), S Mark Roman (groin), TE Delanie Walker (shoulder) and T Barry Sims (ankle) are all probable.
Robinson, Sims and Willis went through full practices, while Brown, Roman and Walker were limited.
Cowboys: WR Miles Austin (knee) and RB Felix Jones (hamstring) are out. CB Terrence Newman (groin) and LB Justin Rodgers (back) are questionable. QB Tony Romo (finger), TE Jason Witten (ribs), LB Bobby Carpenter (groin) and WR Isaiah Stanback (shoulder) are probable.
Newman and Rogers did not practice. Newman is a new addition to the injury report, and this is a biggie. He is a very good player who just returned last week and gave the Cowboys’ defense a major boost with his play against the Redskins. Romo,
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