IRVING, Texas -- The buzz coming out of the Senior Bowl when it comes to Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware is that the seven-time Pro Bowler had a down season, but it's not the start of a severe decline.
The Cowboys will have to figure out a way to make Ware's $16.003 million salary cap number work by either asking him to take a pay cut or restructuring the deal.
They also must figure out a way to keep him healthy, but Jason Garrett believes there could be a remedy to Ware's play: more practice.
Not to go all Allen Iverson here, but we're talking about practice.
Through the course of a regular season, teams practice three times a week for 16 weeks, excluding the bye week. Over the last two years, Ware has been on the daily injury report 57 times. He has been listed as a full participant 14 times. He has been listed as limited 22 times and as did not practice 21 times.
Ordinarily, a limited practice means a player did not take any team snaps but went through individual work.
Of the 96 practices the last two seasons in which a daily injury report was filed with the league, Ware was limited or out 43 times. That is a staggering percentage.
In the last two seasons Ware has recorded 17.5 sacks.
In 2010-11, Ware was on the daily injury report 18 times. He was listed as a full participant twice, limited 11 times and did not practice five times. In those seasons he had 35 sacks.
Garrett, who will give his veterans a day or two off in the offseason or in training camp, likes to say the Cowboys believe in the importance of practice.
Wednesday practices mean the most because those are the full-padded sessions. Teams can have one padded practice a week for the first 11 weeks of the season and three in the final six weeks. In the last two years, Ware has been listed as limited or did not practice in 14 Wednesday practices. Ten of those have been full-padded workouts.
"He's missed a lot of practice time over the last couple of years because of all these injuries and that's something that can impact a player, even a player of his caliber," Garrett said. "You need to practice. You need to make sure you have the skills necessary to play your best come Sunday and he's done an amazing job from a mental and physical toughness standpoint of playing in these games. We've got to get him to the point where he's healthy and he can practice and get himself ready to play the way he's capable of playing."