DeMarcus Ware first sprained his neck in the 2009 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Later that season, Ware had a scary collision with the thigh of San Diego offensive tackle Brandyn Dombrowski. He left on a stretcher, though he played the next week against the New Orleans Saints.
Ware knew then that he would have to live with stingers for the rest of his career. He has been taken out of each of the past two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams because of stingers.
The Cowboys are being cautious with Ware during practice, keeping him out of contact drills in the padded practice Wednesday.
“I’m not worried at all,” said Ware, who played 37 of 69 plays against the Rams. “I feel good when I’m out there.”
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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett admits it’s a frustrating problem because there is no guarantee when or if it will arise each week, and players can’t avoid contact during games.
“We just want to make sure we don’t go backwards on that,” Garrett said. “He’s been able to play really effectively in the games.”
Ware leads the Cowboys with four sacks and 11 quarterback pressures, but he has only three tackles this season.
“Now, that’s crazy,” Ware said. “I got my first tackle the last game and Nick [Hayden] came up to me, ‘D-Ware, you just got your first tackle!’ By now I’m usually averaging six or seven tackles a game. It’s different because you got them boys back there getting them tackles now. But it’s about big plays, more tackles for a loss.”
Although it didn’t look like it in Sunday’s game, rookie safety J.J. Wilcox was admittedly nervous, star-struck and overwhelmed at the outset.
“It felt great, being in that tunnel before the game and hearing your name called,” Wilcox said. “It’s something you dream about when you are a kid. It was amazing.”
The third-round pick, who was promoted to the starting role ahead of veteran Will Allen, was comforted knowing his dad was in the stands for his big day. But he acknowledges his thoughts were also on his mom, who died of lupus in August.
“I did think about my mom when I walked out,” Wilcox said. “I know she would have been proud of me. She is the reason I play with a chip on my shoulder. That’s how I attack the field and lay it on the line.”
If Wilcox was nervous, it certainly didn’t show. There were no glaring miscues from the rookie.
“I study. I stay late and come in early when everybody is not here,” Wilcox said. “The hard work I put in pays off in that way so I wouldn’t stick out like a rookie. I made a lot of mistakes. The mistakes, I made them at full speed. I still have room to grow.”
Jason Garrett gave Wilcox high marks for his performance against the Rams. Wilcox has one only year of experience at safety at Georgia Southern.
“Wilcox did a nice job in the game,” Garrett said. “It didn’t seem too big for him. I thought it was a good start.”
The San Diego Chargers rank 32nd in pass defense. Dez Bryant swears he hasn’t noticed.
“I really don’t pay attention to it,” Bryant said Thursday. “We go out, and we practice, and we watch them on film and we try to see where we can attack them out, find that weakness and attack them.”
The Cowboys practiced without Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dwayne Harris (hip) again Thursday, but Bryant is no longer on the injury report. He was hit in the back against the Chiefs and missed some practice time last week, but Bryant said he feels much better this week.