OXNARD, Calif. – It’s rare for DeMarcus Ware to just take a break between practice reps.
No. 94 will usually grab somebody – a younger defensive lineman, an offensive tackle, a quality control coach – and work on pass-rushing technique on the side. He’ll do the same thing after most practices, often with left tackle Tyron Smith. And he’ll do it again after meetings, meals and to fill pretty much any free time he has during training camp.
How often does Ware think about rushing the quarterback?
“I probably pass rush when I’m coming out of the bathroom stall, pass rush when I’m in my sleep,” Ware said, only half-kidding.
As new Dallas defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said, “I think the guy is absolutely consumed with pass rush. We’ll finish a meeting and he’ll be in the hall working with somebody alone. He loves it. He adores it. And his numbers show it, too.”
The numbers certainly do show it. Ware’s 111 sacks are the most by any player since he arrived in the league in 2005 and rank 19th on the NFL’s official all-time list.
The Cowboys credit Harvey Martin with the franchise record of 114 sacks, most of which came before it was an official stat, so Ware will likely break that mark in the first month of the season.
What about Bruce Smith’s all-time record of 200? Ware is well aware of that number. But he’s not going to pull an Adrian Peterson, who has predicted the exact date that he’ll break Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record.
“I never usually think about a record, because a record has a ceiling to it,” Ware said. “I always talk about a ceiling. Why not shoot to something a little higher than that and then you might end up where you need to be?”
Ware is shooting much higher than his results from last season. Playing with essentially one arm for most of the season, Ware had a down year by his standards, tying for ninth in the NFL with 11.5 sacks before undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
A lot of pass rushers would consider 11.5 sacks a career year. Ware, whose drives comes primarily from his desire to win a title, considers it a little extra motivation to prove he is still a premier pass rusher.
“Everybody says he’s 31; he can’t still do what he needs to do,” said Ware, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday. “But just turn the practice tape on and let that carry over into the game and proving a point to yourself day in and day out that you still can do it. The age might be going up, but the experience and the maturity, I’m still young.
“It’s not slowing down. The train is coming.”
And Ware’s training never seems to stop.