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Ratliff to remain at tackle, but will it be the nose?

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In a couple of recent articles, I’ve posted information from Rob Ryan that Jay Ratliff would be playing nose tackle in 2011 for the Cowboys.  As reader Chris Stallcup pointed out, Ryan’s exact wording during his press conference was “tackle,” not “nose tackle.”

I hadn’t heard the actual presser and simply assumed Ryan was referring to the nose, but Chris pointed out how the exact verbiage could make a difference here.  As I thought about it, I realized Ratliff will play likely play tackle regardless of what his “normal” position may be in Ryan’s scheme.  That’s because, if Ryan uses a four-man defensive line in nickel situations as the ‘Boys have done in recent years, Ratliff will be playing defensive tackle on those plays.  Thus, even if Ratliff is at defensive end on first downs, he’ll see plenty of snaps at defensive tackle.

Ryan’s omission of the word “nose” when referring to Ratliff’s position might mean nothing, but it could mean my assumption that Ratliff will be staying at nose tackle is mistaken.  If so, “true” nose tackles like Baylor’s Phil Taylor are still in play for Dallas.

Of course, Ryan’s schemes are so diverse that Ratliff could play nose tackle on certain plays and then move to end in similar situations late in the game.  In Ryan’s defense, players line up all over the place (which is why I love it).  Whatever the case may be, the fact that we could see Ratliff at nose tackle doesn’t rule out the possibility of him playing the five-technique or three-technique.

Maybe he’ll even get a little time at free safety.

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