IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys allowed Detroit’s Calvin Johnson the second-most receiving yards in NFL history. They suffered a gut-wrenching, last-second 31-30 loss to the Lions. They rank 32nd in total defense.And defensive tackle Jason Hatcher is a picture of optimism. He could not be more upbeat about the defense’s and the team’s prospects for the rest of the season.“I don’t like to look back on last year, if we would’ve lost a game like that, we would’ve packed it in,” Hatcher said Thursday. “We don’t have guys like that on this defense or entire team. That’s what makes me have the faith — just the guys we have. They want to win for each other. We’re a brotherhood, and we’re going to continue to play to the end. And I think we’ll be in a good situation in late December.”Hatcher, who 21 months ago questioned whether the Cowboys had leadership, has become a vocal leader. In a contract year, Hatcher is having the best season of his career with 34 tackles, seven sacks and 19 pressures.The Cowboys honored him this week by placing an action photo of Hatcher, with his index finger raised to the sky, on the wall outside the locker room. It replaces a shot of Jay Ratliff and joins other photos of Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Tony Romo and Jason Witten.“That meant a lot to me, to be on that wall,” Hatcher said. “It wasn’t given; I earned that. …To be on that wall is an honor and privilege. It’s an awesome feeling.”Ware not practicingDeMarcus Ware continues to be encouraged by his rehab, but his injured quadriceps could keep him out another week.Ware played 134 consecutive games before sitting out the past two games. He was not even close enough last Sunday to try to do anything in pregame. Ware’s thigh feels better now, but he concedes he still might need at least another week. The Cowboys play at New Orleans next week before their bye week, which would give Ware an extra week of rest, but he said his goal is to get back before the bye.“The way that everything is going, it’s progressing really well,” Ware said Thursday. “I did a lot of the [rehab] drills [Thursday]. I’m starting to feel really good, and now I’m trying to get ready for this week. If not this week, try to get ready for next week. This is a day-to-day thing.”Four other starters missed practice again Thursday. Receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring), right guard Brian Waters (elbow) and safety J.J. Wilcox (knee) all sat out.Weems gets reps at OGBackup offensive tackle Darrion Weems has never played guard. He had never even practiced at the position until Thursday when offensive line coach Bill Callahan requested he take some reps there.“Just a different animal,” Weems said. “At tackle, you get to be more patient and kind of wait for things to happen a little bit, more or less. At guard, everything happens quicker. It’s like, ‘Boom! It’s all in your face.’ Everything has to be kind of on the line. It’s not that bad, though. I kind of like it.”With starting right guard Brian Waters out with a torn triceps, the Cowboys have no true backup guard. Starting right tackle Doug Free, starting center Travis Frederick and backup center Phil Costa all have gotten reps at guard this week as the Cowboys attempt to formulate a backup plan in case of injury to starters Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ron Leary.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean