Anthony Spencer can't avoid the comparisons. While Spencer, a first-round draft pick in 2007, has 21.5 sacks in his career, DeMarcus Ware has 80 in that same five-year span.
No matter what Spencer does, even though he plays a different outside linebacker position, he always will be compared to Ware.
"It’s both a curse and a blessing," Spencer said of playing opposite Ware. "I wouldn’t say it’s a curse, but it has its benefits and its non-benefits being across from him, definitely."
Spencer isn't Ware. Everyone knows that. But the Cowboys believe he is better than fans and media give him credit for. Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus points out that Spencer was fourth in the league in sacks (6), pressures (31) and hits (9), though pressures and hits are unofficial stats.
"DeMarcus is unique," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He’s rare. He’s the best at what he does in the world. It’s important to understand that, and you try to evaluate your players independent of each other. Spence has some real strengths. He does some things better than DeMarcus does. You try to highlight his strengths. You try to help him with some of the things he doesn’t do quite as well. But that’s everybody on our football team what we’re trying to do. I think it’s unfair to try to compare players on the same team, from around the league, from eras, from the same era, from different eras. I just think you try your best to evaluate what the player is and try to help him become the best he can be."
The Cowboys franchised Spencer for things other than his sacks. They call him a good run stopper, among other things. They are paying him $8.8 million this season and hoping he can up his sack numbers while doing everything else he does.
The Cowboys, though, obviously haven't committed to Spencer long term. He was the best option this year, but the Cowboys are keeping their options open for 2013. So just like last year, Spencer is in a contract year.
"It’s the same thing all over again," Spencer said. "We just don’t want to make a habit of it. That’s all I’m feeling."
-- Charean Williams