DeMarcus Ware has played almost exactly the same number of plays that he played in the first five games of last season, but he is playing a lower percentage of the Cowboys' plays.
Ware has been off the field at times with stringers and a back strain.
But the biggest explanation is opponents are averaging 69.6 plays against the Cowboys per game, including 79 by the Broncos last week. Middle linebacker Sean Lee has played the most of any Dallas defender, missing only 16 plays -- all at the end of the St. Louis game when the Cowboys had a big lead.
"It’s more of that when you get to a point that you’re in there for 14 or 15 plays, and sometimes you might be gassed, so let [Kyle] Wilber get in there, so it keeps your legs fresh because that makes for a long game," Ware said. "You know, when I played linebacker I would play 70 plays, and now if there are 70 plays, I might miss eight or nine or 10 and give them to Wilber, because it’s different because now you’re doing a lot more tussling and now running out of a stack you have to go help make plays as a linebacker."
Ware has played 251 of 348 plays -- 72.1 percent -- at defensive end this season. He played 259 of 285 plays -- 90.9 percent -- in the first five games of last season at outside linebacker.
He said the demands of playing defensive end are greater.
"It’s a more strenuous job," Ware said. "You get more work, so you get tired a lot faster. The mentality of our defense, you’re going to push yourself to the limit, and you’re going to be tired a little bit. The rotation, you have to have guys to rotate in. Guys want to stay out there, and say, ‘I want to stay out here and play,’ but guess what, don’t nobody want to get a loaf. You can put guys in there fresh and let them run fast because that’s how our defense is."
Ware has 10 tackles, four sacks and 15 pressures. He had 30 tackles, six sacks and nine pressures this time last year when he was an outside linebacker.
-- Charean Williams