ORLANDO –When the Broncos decided to jump headfirst into the DeMarcus Ware sweepstakes two weeks ago, head coach John Fox said his team was more than informed about the injury history of the elite pass rusher.
Injuries were obviously the reason the Cowboys parted ways with Ware after nine seasons, but head coach John Fox said his team more than did its homework before signing him to a three-year, $30 million contract.
Then again, Fox said his team has had recent success when it comes to signing players with injury risks.
Anytime you're dealing with people, there's a risk," Fox said Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. "We got a guy a couple of years ago, No. 18 (Peyton Manning). There was some risk. That turned out pretty good."
Manning, the 2013 NFL MVP who broke the league's single-season record for touchdown passes with 55 last year, missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury. The Colts decided to part ways with their franchise quarterback after 14 years, but the Broncos quickly signed the future Hall of Famer. In the last two seasons, Denver has gone 13-3 in both campaigns, although they lost in the AFC Divisional round in 2012 and then in the Super Bowl this past season against Seattle.
While Manning was coming off one serious injury to his neck, Ware has battled a variety of issues, most of which he's been able to play with, albeit less than 100 percent.
Ware dealt with a quad injury that forced him to miss the first three games of his career last season, along with nagging shoulder, hamstring, back and neck injuries. He's also had two elbow injuries. Ware had offseason elbow surgery last month. [embedded_ad]
"If you really research it and look over his career, and understand he had surgery to repair his elbow, when that happened, watching him before it happened and after it happened, you realize it's hard to play this game with one arm," Fox said. "You get it fixed. We're obviously betting he has a lot left. I think there is a lot of evidence of that."
And it's not Ware's 117 career sacks that Fox is excited about. In fact, the Broncos coach said he discussed leadership with Ware before he joined the team.
"Oh yeah, we put a lot of research into players," Fox said. "We don't discount their core values, their character, their ability to lead. We think that's part of performance."
And Fox has no doubt Ware can and will be a leader in the Broncos' locker room, despite their established success.
"Football players are football players," he said. "The faces change. The numbers change. But there's a simiillarity between locker rooms and football players as well. I think he'll do just fine."
Fox wouldn't go so far as to say Ware could be the Broncos' missing piece to the puzzle, but is looking forward to seeing if he can help them get over the top.
"I don't know if you want to say too much about missing," Fox said. "I mean, we did go to the Super Bowl. You're just trying to improve, trying to get better. Time will tell."