IRVING — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett declined to elaborate on the decision to release injured defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, simply saying it was best for the team now and in the future.Citing legal reasons about the disclosure of medical information, they also declined to dispute allegations made by Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, that the injury that sidelined the defensive tackle all season is much worse than the “sports hernia” as initially purported by the Cowboys.“I don’t want to get into the details of the medical situation,” Garrett said. “He’s been a heck of a football player for our team. We made the decision because we think it’s in the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys now and going forward.”Ratliff played in only six games last season before undergoing surgery for a “sports hernia” in December. The Cowboys hoped Ratliff would be ready for the 2013 season and have an impact in the new 4-3 defensive scheme under coordinator Monte Kiffin.Ratliff suffered a setback on the first day of training camp when he injured his hamstring during conditioning drills, complicating his rehab. Slough said Ratliff should not have done the drills because he wasn’t healthy. Jones and Garrett said Ratliff decided to participate in pre-camp drills in an attempt to pass the physical to practice.Ratliff missed all of training camp and the preseason. The Cowboys held out hope that putting him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the first six games would give him time to heal and return for the bulk of the season.They decided this week to part ways with the nine-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowl player because he is nowhere close to returning.“We just think availability due to health has been the biggest issue with Jay over the last couple of years,” Garrett said.Jones said he has no ill will toward Ratliff despite a confrontation in the locker room last year, citing “a long history of having an appreciation for guys who give it up and work and play through pain, and I do with Jay. So it is disappointing that that great career of his has to end.”Jones said the move has a psychological advantage this year.“I just as soon focus on the pluses. The other thing I think that this does [is] psychologically we know we’ve got what we’ve got,” Jones said. “At least in this regard, help is not on the way.”Slough added another layer to the ongoing drama Thursday when he said Ratliff could play again in 2013 — one day after agreeing with the Cowboys that he was likely done for the season and pointing toward 2014.“I’m saying that Jay is going to see his surgeon in Philly next week and if he gets a good report, I would not completely rule out his returning to the field sometime in 2013,” Slough said.Briefly• The NFL fined Cowboys linebacker Cameron Lawrence $21,000 for a blindside block during Dwayne Harris’ 90-yard kickoff return. Lawrence’s salary is the rookie minimum $405,000.• DeMarcus Ware said his injured quadriceps feels better and stronger than it did earlier in the week. He plans to travel with the team to Philadelphia and make a final decision before the game.• Miles Austin (hamstring) and DeMarco Murray (knee) sat out practice Thursday.
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr