IRVING, Texas -- Wherever DeMarcus Ware goes, he is always thinking about rushing the passer.
"Ninety-eight percent of the time we’re talking some kind of strategy," defensive end Anthony Spencer said.
In the locker room he might use a head-and-shoulder fake to get by an unsuspecting media member. Before practice he will work on a swim move on the goalpost to perfect his footwork. In the meeting room he might take another defensive lineman aside and do a dip-and-rip or a stab move. During a downtime in practice he will take Tyron Smith and work his punch.
"He’s always working on his craft; that’s why he’s the best in the league," defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. "A guy like that working his craft, it’s kind of contagious."
Ware turned 31 on July 31. While he possesses God-given ability, he is at a point where the mental prowess for the game becomes closest to the physical prowess for the game. He is not a fastball pitcher now getting by on his off-speed pitches, but that day will come.
It just might not be too soon, given how Ware performed in training camp and so far in his brief appearances in two preseason games.
"To me, the most talented players, the best players are overachievers," Rod Marinelli said. "They overachieve. That’s why they become special. A lot of guys in this league have a lot of talent that don’t become special."
Marinelli does not use the term defensive linemen. He calls them rushmen. He even changed the sign to the unit’s room to "Rushmen."
Ware is the rushman of the rushmen. He views Marinelli as his first full-time pass rush coach in his eight years. In Oxnard, Calif., Ware and Marinelli were often engaged in lengthy discussions about pass rushing.
As an outside linebacker in his first eight years, Ware recorded 111 sacks, the Cowboys’ official team record, and has been named to the Pro Bowl eight times.
Now moving to defensive end, Ware feels as though he will be freed up to rush the passer more. With four sacks this year, he will surpass Harvey Martin (114) as the unofficial franchise leader in sacks.
"You ask the fastest man in the world: Can you run faster out of a two-point stance or a three-point stance?" Ware said. "He comes out of the block in a three-point stance."
So Ware is the NFL’s Usain Bolt?
"I didn’t say that," he smiled. "I guess I got a good first step."
Not long before training camp, Ware ran into Warren Sapp at the Fountainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.
"I told him I’m looking for 25 [sacks] from him because I know what [Marinelli] teaches," Sapp said.
Twenty-five sacks would be an NFL record. It also would make Ware the only player with two seasons of 20 or more sacks (he had 20 in 2008).
He said he let Sapp’s comment "go by the wayside." What stuck more is what Sapp told him about Marinelli.
"You talk about fundamentals, and that’s what Marinelli is all about," Ware said. "He’s installed that through the whole defensive line. It’s all predicated on effort, and once you add in the technique and doing it perfectly every time, you make big plays."