LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Coming off his first action in more than a year, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff called his debut Sunday “a good start,” but made it clear he won’t be participating in any back and forth regarding his former team, the Dallas Cowboys, in the lead-up to next Monday night’s matchup at Soldier Field.
“It’s just another game. It’s just football,” Ratliff said of the pending matchup with the Cowboys. “I don’t get caught up in all that silly rivalry stuff or some payback. The thing is we’re here to win, and we’re going to give every effort to do that.”
Drafted by Dallas in 2005, Ratliff was named to the Pro Bowl in four straight seasons (2008-11) with the Cowboys before the team released him in October.
Ratliff signed with the Bears on Nov. 2, and played 23 snaps in his debut with the team Sunday at Minnesota, entering the game with 10:57 left to play in the opening quarter. On his first play Ratliff closed in quickly on Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder as he threw incomplete to Jerome Simpson.
Officially, Ratliff was credited with one assisted tackle.
“I thought he did some really good things out there,” said defensive end Corey Wootton. “He hasn’t played football in a while, but as the season goes on you’re gonna see him be more and more impactful. We were limiting a little bit in there as far as reps, but he’s definitely a force out there; really stout in the run, did some good things in the pass game. It was good to have him out there.”
Prior to the game at Minnesota, Ratliff last played in a game on Nov. 18, 2012, when he sustained a serious groin injury that eventually led to sports hernia surgery.
Going into the contest, Bears coach Marc Trestman said there were no expectations for Ratliff, and added that the plan was to play the four-time Pro Bowler a predetermined amount of snaps and gauge his progress.
“I thought he played well,” Trestman said. “We had him at 20-something snaps. We stayed true to that. I heard him come off a couple of times and say, ‘Let me stay in my rhythm.’ He felt he was mixing it up in there. So we felt pretty good that he’ll be able to play much longer this week.”
That’s fine by Ratliff, who will now be counted upon to play a significant role in bolstering the NFL’s worst run defense.
The Bears have given up 504 yards on the ground over the past two games, including 211 yards from Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, who averaged 6 yards per attempt.
“After a loss you have 6-7 days to wait before you play again, and there’s nothing to do but just work,” Ratliff said. “That’s why we watch film. We see the things that we need to work on. And if you’ve got anything to you, you’re going to look at it, and you’re going to do everything in your power to fix it.”
- Joined ESPN in 2010
- Previously covered Jaguars and Redskins
- Played college football at West Texas A&M