Ready For Hard-Ware?

could probably play a handful of positions in the NFL if he wanted to.

We've seen him play defensive end and outside linebacker, and head coach Wade Phillips said he wouldn't be surprised if he could play the middle linebacker position as well. And I wouldn't doubt that Ware could be effective on offense with enough time to practice. Tight end? Wide receiver? You laugh now, but Michael Vick wasn't laughing when Ware snagged his pass out of midair and then ran right by him for a touchdown.

But forget switching positions with him. He's playing the best position for him right now. And according to Phillips, he doesn't see anyone playing it better.

When asked on Friday if he's seen a defensive player in the NFL playing better than Ware, Phillips had a quick, blunt response.

"No. Not any outside 'backers for sure," Phillips said. "I think he's a dominant player. He makes plays against the run and pass. He doesn't rush the pass every play. He does his responsibility. He's not a guy who just runs up field every play and tries to get a sack. He makes more plays as an outside 'backer in this defense, more than any guy I've had."

And that's saying something right there. Don't forget that Shawne Merriman, who starred for Phillips' defense last year in San Diego, led the league in sacks with 17 and finished a close second in the Defensive MVP voting to Miami's Jason Taylor.

Ware might not get that many sacks this year, but it's not completely out of the question. Remember, he has finished strong the last two years, recording four sacks in the final two games each season, including a three-sack game twice. In fact, Ware had three sacks against the Lions last season and Detroit hasn't been much better protecting its quarterback this year, yielding a league-high 50 sacks.

It might just take another big performance from Ware to land such a prestigious award.

But if it's not Ware, then who?

The guy who got a lot of attention early in the season was Colts safety Bob Sanders. Can't say I have too many complaints about that pick. He's been a huge part of that Indy defense that ranks second in the NFL in total defense and pass defense. However, I would like my Defensive MVP to have more than one interception.

If you wanted to give the Patriots a clean sweep with awards, then outside linebacker Mike Vrabel could get the nod. He has 9 ½ sacks and also is a valuable offensive threat on the goal line. Cornerback Asante Samuel has been very good, with six interceptions.

Other guys who could be mentioned are Green Bay's Aaron Kampman or the Giants' Osi Umenyiora, who both have 11 sacks.

And since we're talking numbers, let's not forget Ellis, who has 10 ½ sacks playing in fewer games.

Now this late in a season, especially one in which the Cowboys are having so much success, it's hard to get any player to talk about awards, especially involving themselves.

Ware tried to side-step the question, but he did admit he feels like he at least should be mentioned in the conversation.

"It just something that reminds you of how hard you're working," Ware said of awards.

"If there are guys being categorized like that and I feel like I'm better, then I want to be mentioned in the same pool. I let the outside sources determine that. I see that I'm on an equal level with a lot of guys. But I wouldn't say there are a lot of guys totally better than me."

He doesn't have to say it.

And when it's actually time to vote for the league's top defensive player, let's see if the voters can actually say it for him.

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