IRVING, Texas - When Rob Ryan spoke about the status of DeMarcus Ware on Friday afternoon, he did not exactly provide the most glowingly positive statements. Ryan was asked if he expected Ware, who has been playing through shoulder and elbow injuries nearly all season, would be 100 percent in the Cowboys matchup against the Redskins Sunday night.
"No," Ryan said emphatically. "Not even close."
Ryan went on to say that the Cowboys are prepared for the fact that Ware might not be able stay on the field for every play.
"I think we're going to have to watch how many plays we give him," Ryan said. "Pick our spots and play our other players. We've got good players here so we're going to play them."
The Cowboys' defense has been making adjustments all season based on the health of their linebackers. Ryan compared Ware's situation to their ability to succeed without Sean Lee.
"There's only one DeMarcus Ware," Ryan said. "There's only one Sean Lee. We've had to function without Sean, now sometimes you have to function without DeMarcus. They're two of the premier players in football, but nobody's got them except us so we're fortunate to have them and when we don't we have to move on. We'll do the best we can. I know DeMarcus will play his heart out when he's out there."
Ware has not participated in a single practice this week, but he is still listed as probable to start against the Redskins. He has said that he will be wearing a shoulder brace in the game.
On Friday, Ryan also talked about the struggles that the defense has gone through. That side of the ball has been riddled with injuries all year and while the defense has been trying to survive, Ryan credits the offense with providing enough points to win games.
"Our offense, in my opinion, is second to none," Ryan, said. "I think we have an outstanding offense. We have a tremendous quarterback and obviously a great system with Jason (Garrett). What we need to do is play better football on defense. Maybe we're not going to be great, but we need to be better than what we've been."
Ryan even took it a step further and claimed that the offense has been out-performing his defensive unit.
"Our strength is definitely on offense right now, but we don't want to be a second-class citizen," Ryan said. "I think we played that way last week and it showed against a talented quarterback in Drew Brees. We need to bounce back and have a great game here."