Despite wearing orange and navy with a bronco on the side of his helmet, DeMarcus Ware always will consider himself a Cowboy. The Cowboys drafted him 11th overall in 2005, and he spent the first nine years of his career in Dallas.
Ware kept his house in Tarrant County and plans to retire there when he finishes his career.
He also promises to retire a Cowboy.
“That’s where everything started for me,” Ware said in a phone interview. “I was part of the Cowboys’ organization for nine years and put in a lot of sweat and tears there. Jerry Jones is a great owner, and it’s a great organization. Coming back there and maybe being able to be in the Ring of Honor and being able to do some things for the community, it’ll be awesome. It’s home for me and for my kids.”
If [a guy] still can be consistent through the hurt, imagine if he can get healthy ... he can bounce back, and I think that’s what I did.
Denver’s DeMarcus Ware, on returning to form after an injury-plagued 2013 with the Cowboys
Ware, though, isn’t planning on quitting anytime soon.
The Cowboys released Ware before the 2014 season, saving them $7.4 million against the cap. The pass rusher was coming off his worst season, making only six sacks in an injury-plagued 2013 campaign.
Denver signed him to three-year, $30 million deal, and Ware has proved the past two years that he wasn’t damaged goods.
“A lot of people probably said, ‘You know what? He’s been dinged up, and he’s been hurt,’ ” Ware said. “I always look at a guy and see how he plays through the hurt. If he still can be consistent through the hurt, imagine if he can get healthy and get ahead of the injury curve, he can bounce back, and I think that’s what I did.”
Ware has provided a perfect complement to former Texas A&M star Von Miller. Ware, 33, made 10 sacks last season, his eighth double-digit sack season, and already has 5.5 this season.
“I am seeing a lot more one-on-one blocks, because when Von comes from the other side, they have to be aware of him,” Ware said. “If it’s third-and-8, you’ve got me and him coming, plus another couple of guys, so you’re able to get the one-on-one matchups to where you can beat guys, or maybe even mismatches where you’re maybe on a tight end or a running back, and you’re able to make plays.”
Ware, reunited with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, plays on the league’s top-rated defense. The Broncos are allowing only 261.1 yards per game. They already have drawn comparisons to some of the league’s best-ever units.
“I played on a lot of great defenses in Dallas,” Ware said. “Here in Denver, it’s a lot different. You have a couple of extra athletes playing on the team, and guys are playing really well and playing consistent. I think this is probably one of the best defenses I’ve played on in my career.”
Ware owns the Cowboys’ team sacks record with 117, and his 132 1/2 career sacks have him within one sack of joining the league’s career top 10. He is within nine sacks of the top five of all time.
132.5 Career sacks for DeMarcus Ware, 117 with the Cowboys, 10 last season and 5.5 this year.
Ware appears well on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“There are a lot of great players in the Hall of Fame,” Ware said. “You never sort of look at yourself and think about yourself having that bronzed head. You just keep working hard and keep biting at the bit, and hopefully you’re able to be enshrined in something like that that lives forever.”
Ware was thrilled to see Charles Haley get his due with Haley’s induction into Canton in August.
“Oh, man, that was awesome,” Ware said. “As hard as he fought and how he played, he deserved it. He was just an unbelievable pass-rusher.
“When I first came in, I had some big shoes to fill. There was a lot of pressure. You know how Charles is. I got there, and he said, ‘You’re wearing 94. Now, you’ve got to prove something to me week in and week out.’ He really stayed on me about that.”
Ware seeks the one thing missing from his résumé and his hand — a Super Bowl ring. The Broncos stand as one of four undefeated teams in the NFL.
“You think about all the things players play for, the biggest thing is the Super Bowl,” Ware said. “That’s the pinnacle of what a team is about. Guys coming together at adverse times and getting in the playoffs and now being able to say, ‘Now we’ve made it. We’ve arrived, and we did it. No matter what we went through, this team did something special.’ It would be something really big for me.”
My five cents
1 Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is in the running for defensive player of the year and arguably has been as important to his team’s success as any player in the league. He has 12 pass breakups, tied for second in the league, while giving up only 19 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown despite being targeted 48 times.
2 Ken Whisenhunt’s firing was an expensive move for the Tennessee Titans. He had 3 1/2 years left on his contract, worth roughly $5 million per season.
3 The San Francisco 49ers cast their fate when they parted with Jim Harbaugh after last season. They are in for a long rebuilding project that could find them seeking a new coach and a new franchise quarterback after this season. Jim Tomsula benched Colin Kaepernick this week and the 49ers could move on without both in the off-season.
4 So much for Drew Brees being over the hill. The 36-year-old quarterback passed for 505 yards and a record-tying seven touchdowns last week against the New York Giants. After a shaky start to this season, which included his missing a game with a shoulder bruise, Brees’ 100.8 passer rating ranks eighth.
5 Linebacker Terrell Suggs’ future with the Baltimore Ravens has become uncertain after he tore his Achilles in the season opener. Suggs, 33, has not been with the team since. He has three years left on his contract, with an $8.9 million cap number next season.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, 38, has thrown 20 touchdown passes to one interception with 2,410 yards. His 115.8 passer rating leads the league, and the Patriots lead the league in scoring and rank second in passing yards.
New Orleans Saints cornerback Brandon Browner leads the league with 14 penalties, including eight defensive holds and three personal fouls. Pro Football Focus rated him last among 113 cornerbacks. Quarterbacks have targeted Browner 43 times, completing 27 passes for 482 yards and a touchdown against him.
1 Road victory for the Washington Redskins in 11 games under coach Jay Gruden. The only win came on Monday Night Football on Oct. 27 last season in Arlington against the Dallas Cowboys. Washington plays five of its final nine games away from home.
2016 NFL Draft
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com gives his top-10 senior linebackers and top-five draft-eligible underclassmen at the position for the 2016 draft:
1. Reggie Ragland, Alabama, 6-2, 252
2. Jordan Jenkins, Georgia, 6-2, 253
3. Joshua Perry, Ohio State, 6-4, 254
4. Kentrell Brothers, Missouri, 6-0, 238
5. Deion Jones, LSU, 6-1, 228
6. Tyler Matakevich, Temple, 6-0, 232
7. Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech, 6-3, 236
8. Eric Striker, Oklahoma, 6-0, 223
9. Curt Maggitt, Tennessee, 6-2, 244
10. Antwione Williams, Ga. So., 6-2, 245
1. Myles Jack, UCLA, 6-1, 228
2. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame, 6-2, 230
3. Darron Lee, Ohio State, 6-1, 225
4. Leonard Floyd, Georgia, 6-3, 220
5. Kendell Beckwith, LSU, 6-2, 249
The Philadelphia Eagles have dropped a league-high 28 passes. They had 25 all of last season.
Of the 280 teams that started 3-5 in NFL history, only 15 made the playoffs, according to STATS.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the easiest remaining schedule, with their opponents having won only .377 percent of their games so far. The New York Jets have the second easiest (.431).
Green Bay hasn't lost two consecutive games with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback since early in the 2010 season.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has the first three-game losing streak of his career at any level.
The Denver Broncos are 3-7 all time in Indianapolis, including the postseason.
The Arizona Cardinals have scored 32 touchdowns this season. It equals their total for all of 2014.
St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley has posted the most rushing yards in a player’s first four starts (566) since the merger in 1970.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman leads the league with 1,062 scrimmage yards, 709 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns.
The Tampa Bay Bucs have averaged 30.3 points per game the past three weeks.
Seattle ranks last in the league in converting red-zone possessions into touchdowns, converting just 29 percent of the time.
The Kansas City Chiefs have used five offensive line combinations in eight games, with two left tackles, two left guards, one center, two right guards and three right tackles.
Information from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.