Even though he is still hasn’t been cleared to play, the Bears locker room is already buzzing about the impending arrival of defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. The former Dallas Cowboy was signed by the Bears over the weekend. He was released by Dallas last month after spending most of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He was on that list because of a groin injury which required surgery that ended his season in 2012.
He had not recovered in time to play for Dallas this season so owner Jerry Jones decided to cut his losses. Dallas’ loss is the Bears’ gain. The 32-year-old defensive lineman will be an assist for the Bears in many ways. One of those ways will be to add depth. The Bears have lost three defensive linemen to season ending injuries this season. Defensive end Turk McBride tore his Achilles during training camp, and tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins tore their ACL’s in weeks three and five respectively.
Then of course we can’t forget about the abrupt retirement of Sedrick Ellis just 24 hours before training camp officially opened. The 300-pound Ratliff will be lined up right next to Stephen Paea in the three-technique. Ratliff was accustomed to playing nose tackle in a 3-4 defense during his career, Dallas switched to a 4-3 this season. Ratliff was expected to be a part of that change, so it will be interesting to see how quick he adjusts to the Bears defense.
At the moment, Bears general manager Phil Emery and the Bears coaching staff is expecting him to adjust without an issue. Another positive Ratliff brings is production. In his career he has notched 228 career tackles to go with 27 sacks, 16 pass deflections and four forced fumbles. Those numbers will be a very welcome addition to a defensive front that has only grabbed nine sacks this season.
The addition of Ratliff will also allow Corey Wootton to move back to his natural position of defensive end. While Wootton has done a fairly decent job in making the switch, he only has one sack while lining up at tackle. There is also the hope that Ratliff will help improve the Bears abysmal run defense which allowed almost 200 yards to Green Bay on Monday night.
If he can stay healthy he should help the Bears in all of these areas. In order to make room for him on the roster, undrafted rookie tackle Zach Minter was cut. Minter was signed as an undrafted free agent in April and played in two games for the Bears this year. It’s doubtful that Ratliff will play against Detroit this Sunday but there will be plenty of excitement once he does put on the Bears uniform for the first time.
There is a downside to this however…… Depending on how well Ratliff plays, it could affect the upcoming free agency of Henry Melton. It may also affect Nate Collins as well. But for now, the Bears are glad to have him on board. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82