ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the first time since he fractured his left forearm in the Denver Broncos' Week 2 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, linebacker DeMarcus Ware was back on the practice field Wednesday.
Ware was wearing a padded shield on his injured arm as he went through his first practice since he fractured the bone just before halftime against the Colts. Ware was officially listed as limited in Wednesday's practice -- the Broncos did not have pads or helmets -- but coach Gary Kubiak said he liked what he saw.
Asked if he believed Ware could play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, Kubiak said: “I think we’ve got a shot, I’m encouraged by what we saw today. ... We’ll pick it up [Thursday], but I felt good about what I saw him do [Wednesday].’’
Ware himself said he wasn’t sure, but wants to get back as quickly as possible.
“[I] feel really good, but it’s a process, though,’’ the 34-year-old said. “... Don’t know if I’m going to play this week, don’t know if I’m going to play next week, but if it progresses like it should, you know I’ll be out there.’’
After Sunday's game against the Chargers, the Broncos have road games at Oakland (Nov. 6) and at New Orleans (Nov. 13) before their bye week. Ware, who usually lines up on the defensive right, said the fact that the injury was to his left arm matters because he often uses that arm in his first move against opposing offensive linemen.
Shane Ray, who has four sacks this season, has played in Ware’s spot much of the time since the injury. Ware said as the bone has healed, he has tried to regain his strength in the arm and aim to minimize the pain he has when he returns to the lineup.
“I play on the right side so the majority of time when I’m punching, I’m punching a guy with my left arm,’’ Ware said, adding that he feels “that shocking sensation going through the bone ... just making sure it’s not painful every single time you hit somebody.’’
Ware, who had 1.5 sacks in the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, will practice, and play, in the near future with a soft cast on his forearm that “has a lot of padding around it.’’
Linebacker Von Miller, who has 6.5 sacks since Ware’s injury and 7.5 for the season, said it will be far more difficult to double-team Miller when Ware is once again in the rotation in the pass rush. The Broncos, with Ware having missed five full games, head into Week 8 with an NFL-best 22 sacks.
Ware’s presence in the Broncos' rotation will only make the defense more difficult for opposing offenses to handle. Ware said one offshoot of all of the training and conditioning he’s done as he has recovered from the injury was that he's slightly bigger now.
“I’m about 250 [pounds], I feel like a beast ... just waiting for my arm to get right,’’ Ware said.
Ware is 10th all-time in sacks with 136.5 in his career. He needs six more to move all the way up to No. 5. Bruce Smith, with 200, is atop the list.