IRVING, Texas – Finding healthy parts of DeMarcus Ware's upper body might be tough.
After starting the season with a hamstring issue, the linebacker has dealt with shoulder, elbow and neck injuries that have restricted his snaps and production the last few weeks. But head coach Jason Garrett doesn't see those limitations holding him out on Sunday against the Redskins.
"He'll battle through anything," Garrett said. "Yesterday, he had a few different things going on that he couldn't really play anymore. Victor Butler went in and played a lot of snaps for us, and somehow, someway, DeMarcus is going to get himself right to play in this Washington game."
Ware has never missed a regular season game in his career. That's 127 straight games he's at least suited up for. He played 59 snaps Sunday, which may sound like a lot before considering the Saints ran 91 offensive plays.
He was clearly limited in his movement, finishing with one recorded tackle, which occurred on a 12-yard catch by Marques Colston on the first drive. Ware's in a bit of a funk reaching the quarterback in recent weeks. He took down Andy Dalton once in Week 14 to break a streak of two straight games without a sack, but he's only registered half a sack in his last two games since then.
"I think a lot of times people lose sight of the kind of person he is and how mentally and physically tough that he is," Garrett said. "He's been dealing with a few different things over the course of the season, a hamstring, an elbow, a shoulder, all those things, and he just somehow, someway, gets himself ready to play in a ballgame. He hasn't had the gaudy numbers that he's had in the past in terms of sacks, but he's such a productive player for us. I think a lot of that goes to his ability, but much more of it goes to his will and his passion for playing and his passion for his teammates and his love for the game."
Ware still leads the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks this season, with nine of those coming in the first eight games, when he was relatively healthier.
For the first time this season, the Cowboys defense failed to record a sack in a game Sunday. Anthony Spencer has tallied double-digit sacks this season for the first time in his career, and 5.5 of his 10 sacks came in the last five games. But when Spencer and Ware both fail to reach the quarterback as they did against the Saints and Drew Brees, the pass rush typically fails.
"We have to affect a quarterback like that with the pass rush, also with how we disguise coverages and do some different things on the back end, and we didn't get that done," Garrett said. "It wasn't because guys weren't trying, but we think that's an important thing. We've got to make sure we do that this week."
Garrett believes there's no way Ware misses a chance for redemption against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, at least at this moment.
"As of Monday, at 12:30 (p.m.)," Garrett said. "He's dealing with some different injuries, and we'll evaluate those each and every day this week and make sure he's functional and can protect himself and all of that, but he's a very willful guy."