SAN DIEGO -- The note from Rod Marinelli with the cigar taped onto it still hangs in DeMarcus Ware’s Valley Ranch locker.
“Close but no cigar,” Marinelli wrote after Ware’s sackless performance in Week 1. Ware has been smoking since then, racking up back-to-back two-sack games.
“Hopefully you fill the box up, close it up and you’re able to have some wine with it later,” said Ware, who broke Harvey Martin’s franchise record with his 115th career sack last week.
The Dallas Cowboys’ meeting with the San Diego Chargers should be a prime opportunity for Ware to add to his sacks total. He’ll likely be matched up against a backup left tackle.
San Diego starting left tackle King Dunlap, who didn’t practice all week due to a concussion, is officially listed as questionable but reportedly isn’t expected to play. That would mean Michael Harris, an undrafted second-year player, gets the task of trying to keep Ware off of Philip Rivers.
Harris ranked third in the NFL in sacks allowed last season with 10 despite starting only nine games.
Ware vs. Harris won’t be the only major mismatch featuring a Dallas defensive lineman. Both of the Chargers’ starting guards are listed as doubtful, so backups Johnnie Troutman and Rich Ohrnberger will probably be matched up against defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who had a sack in each of the Cowboys’ first three games.
Sacks won’t be enough to satisfy Marinelli, though. He put notes in each of the defensive linemen’s lockers this week, along with a small stuffed ball, demanding that they force fumbles when they get to the quarterback.
“He always has something to say,” Ware said, smiling. “He’s always one of those guys that wants more.”
More should be expected of Ware and Hatcher with matchups this favorable.