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 IRVING, Texas (AP) - Jay Ratliff's mysterious and rapid decline with the Dallas Cowboys has ended with his release.
The Cowboys unloaded their apparently disgruntled defensive tackle on Wednesday, saying he failed a physical after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list. He was eligible to be activated this week.
Ratliff missed the last six games of 2012 with a groin injury and had sports hernia surgery after the season. The four-time Pro Bowler injured his hamstring during the conditioning test before training camp in July and never practiced for the Cowboys this season.
At the team's kickoff luncheon a few days before the season started, the ninth-year pro hinted that there was tension between him and the Dallas training staff after he did most of his rehabilitation work away from team headquarters.
That's the last time reporters saw Ratliff. He wasn't in the locker room during the open portion of the day all season.
Jason Hatcher is the tackle Ratliff was supposed to play next to with the Cowboys switching to a four-man front under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. He said Monday he wasn't hearing ''good news'' about Ratliff.
''I am going to stay out of that subject, but I wish him the best,'' he said.
Ratliff made the Pro Bowl as recently as 2011, but ended up missing 10 games last year. A sprained ankle kept him out of the first four, followed by the groin problem. As for his latest woes, in a brief interview at the kickoff luncheon in August, Ratliff said ''for sure it's not a hamstring tweak.''
After his injury-filled 2012 season, Ratliff was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in January, just weeks after teammate Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter following a car accident that killed practice squad player Jerry Brown.
Ratliff had a steady rise from seventh-round pick in 2005 to four straight Pro Bowl seasons. In those four years, he twice had a career-high 83 tackles and 19 of his 27 career sacks.
But Ratliff had just two sacks after signing a five-year contract extension in 2011, and he will still count $7 million against the salary cap next season even after agreeing to have his deal restructured this past offseason.
With star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware battling a quadriceps injury, it's likely Hatcher will be the only one of the four projected starting defensive linemen on the field Sunday when Dallas visits Philadelphia. Anthony Spencer, the end opposite Ware, is out for the season after knee surgery.
One of the primary backups, Tyrone Crawford, was lost for the season to a torn Achilles tendon in the first full workout of training camp. The defensive front is relying so heavily on patchwork replacements, Jones has started calling it the ''no-name group.''
''We sure could use him,'' linebacker Ernie Sims said of Ratliff. ''But I haven't seen him lately.''
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Online:
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

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