By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — Jeremiah Ratliff did not want to come off the field Sunday.
Limited by a snap count, Ratliff rotated in against the Vikings, but only played 23 snaps — 26 percent of the total defensive plays.
Anxious on the sideline, he was begging to play more, but the coaching staff was cautious with the former Pro Bowl defensive tackle who was playing his first game in over a year after suffering a severe groin injury.
“Most definitely,” Ratliff said Thursday when asked if he’s anxious to play more Monday when the Bears host the Cowboys. “I thought about that all weekend. Two days off and even today. Just trying to stay out there with the younger guys, try and get those extra reps. I didn’t have the training camp or anything like that, so all the work I can get, I’m going to get it.”
Ratliff recovered well from his limited playing time Sunday and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker confirmed Thursday that the defensive tackle will see more playing time Monday.
“I expected to be extremely sore,” Ratliff said. “But I hadn’t just been sitting around, so I bounced back pretty good. I’m good.”
Ratliff only recorded one tackle in the game, but he was disruptive and earned praise from the coaching staff.
“He’s a real pro. He’s a veteran guy that knows what it’s all about,” Tucker said. “He’s very serious about what he’s doing. He brings great toughness to our front, mental and physical. He’s a great guy to set an example for the other guys.”
It remains to be seen if Ratliff is ready to move into the starting lineup next to Stephen Paea, which would allow Corey Wootton to move back to defensive end, but at the very least, the Bears’ depth on the defensive line should be better Monday.
And for Ratliff, it means a considerable amount of playing time against this former team, who cut him Oct. 16.
“Everybody’s still trying to make a big deal about that. To me, it’s just another game. As they said, we’re moving on. So have I. And that’s the end of it,” he said.
But Ratliff didn’t have a problem comparing the two organizations. After Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis — who spent the last four years in Dallas — said “it’s a little bit more like Hollywood” with the Cowboys, Ratliff said the Bears are all about football.
“First-class organization,” Ratliff said with a laugh. “Just to put it bluntly and it’s not a shot — if they take it like that, so be it. Here it’s all about football. You can really just focus on your craft, focus on what it is you do. And no matter what’s going on, you never forget what you’re here for. That’s a good thing.”
Ratliff has downplayed playing his former team, but DeCamillis isn’t buying it.
“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s like Ratliff and say it’s like any other game. Anytime you leave some place you always have a little bit more juice going back against them,” the special teams coordinator said.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are ready to see a lot of their former teammate.
“Yeah, I think he’ll probably get some more snaps,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said on a conference call. “He’ll get out there and do what he does best. You’ve got to be prepared for all those guys. They’ve got a good defensive front and it’ll be a great test for us. We’ll prepare all week for it.”
That might be overstating it, but there’s little doubt the Bears’ defensive front will be better off with Ratliff playing more Monday.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.