Commentary

DeMarcus Ware still learning

Numbers say Cowboys OLB is all-time great pass rusher, but he wants more

Updated: August 11, 2012, 1:08 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is a six-time Pro Bowler, has compiled a club-record 23 multiple-sack games, has posted double-digit sack numbers the last six seasons and is considered one of the most dangerous defensive players in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/James D SmithWorking against young players, including left tackle Tyron Smith, helps Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware stay on top of his game.

Yet Ware still wants to learn.

He wants to last a long time in a young man's game.

The 30-year-old Ware talks to 25-year-old backup linebacker Victor Butler about pass-rush moves.

"Sometimes you can't go in a situation thinking that you know it all," Ware said. "Those guys come in and they have some different type moves, and that's what I try to steal from them. If you stay young, you stay in this league a long time. And Victor shows me a lot of things and it helps me out a lot and vice versa."

Ware, who dealt with neck problems the last few seasons, returned to yoga classes weekly at Valley Ranch to gain more flexibility.

He listened to assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett on improving his pass-rush abilities and maintaining his health.

"You want to maintain your body," said Lett, who played for the Cowboys from 1991 to 2000. "If you're a guy who is heavy you have to make sure you don't gain that weight. Some of the guys, like Kenyon Coleman, he gets up every morning and does yoga. He's probably more flexible now than he was as a young player."

There are all sorts of criticisms surrounding Ware. He supposedly doesn't get enough fourth-quarter sacks. He doesn't get enough third-down sacks. He's not dangerous enough.

Since 2005, Ware has 99.5 sacks, most in the NFL in that span. Twenty-six of those came in the fourth quarter, a half-sack more than his first-quarter total.

Third down? Ware has 36 sacks on third down, more than in any other situation.

Dangerous enough? He's got eight sacks in the defensive red zone.

What does Jason Garrett think about his most dangerous player? "He wants to be great," the Cowboys' coach says.

Ware is just one sack from becoming the 28th player in league history to reach 100.

If you compare Ware's numbers to the all-time greats of the game, it stuns you. Reggie White reached 100 sacks in 96 games. Bruce Smith needed 115. Lawrence Taylor 122. Richard Dent 130, Jason Taylor 148 and Charles Haley 166.

Ware has played in 112 games.

Some contemporaries have similar numbers. Jared Allen reached 100 sacks in 122 games. Dwight Freeney needed 146, Julius Peppers 154.

But Ware wants something else he lacks that some of the greats of the game have: Super Bowl appearances and Super Bowl titles.

"I think that's what it's about," he said. "You can have all the accolades, break records whatever you do, it doesn't mean anything. Every player, especially if you're a competitor, you play for that main thing, that's getting to the end."

Ware tells you he can't do it alone, so he seeks out and offers help. He converses with Butler, Lett and left tackle Tyron Smith. He does his yoga to help with the recurring stingers that bothered him last year.

He's studying film and trying to figure out how to beat tackles and tight ends as well as offensive coordinators who design plays to stop him.

"It's just like school, as long as you can go to school, you need to learn as much as you can," he said. "Guys come in with certain moves, different moves and everybody watches film and you got to have something new you're going to bring to the table week in and week out and that's what I try to do."

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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