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January 24, 2014

Cowboys want to avoid rest days for Ware next season because missing practice hurts him

The Cowboys will try their best to keep DeMarcus Ware healthy next year, but they don’t want to get in the habit of giving him days off from practice.

“He’s missed a lot of practice time over the last couple of years because of all these injuries, and that’s something that really can impact a player, even a player of his caliber,” coach Jason Garrett said at the Senior Bowl. “You need to practice.”

Ware missed the first three games of his career last year, sidelined by a quadriceps injury. He said after the season he also had problems with both elbows and with his back.

The Cowboys tried to nurse him along after he came back, but he was ineffective, with only a mop-up sack against the Chicago Bears after Thanksgiving.

“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,” Garrett said. “We’ve got to get him to the point where he’s healthy and he can practice and he can get himself ready to play the way he’s capable of playing.”

Ware is the Cowboys’ all-time sack leader. He will turn 32 in July next year and is scheduled to count $16 million against the cap. He said after the season he is willing to restructure his contract, but he said that doesn’t mean taking a pay cut.

“He’s always done an amazing job fighting through those things, doing what he can do to get himself to Sunday,” Garrett said. “And I think if we can get him to a point where he is healthy throughout the season, you’ll see similar production to what he has had throughout his career.

“One of the amazing things about him is he’s missed very little time, and for a guy who’s been such a marked man for so long, plays week in and week out, been as productive as he’s been, for him to miss his first games this year in a long, long time, is really, really impressive. Now, having said all of that, we’ve got to get him healthy. We’ve got to get him right. We’ve got to make sure he’s physically capable of doing what he’s doing. I know he’s started that process already. This offseason is important for him.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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