Ware-ing Me Out

Haley.  

"He can turn that shoulder and bend at the same time," said Zim, likening the move to someone trying to run in a small circle as fast as he can. 

Zimmer said he recalled the first time he saw him pass rushing. 

"The first time was a speed rush," the defensive coordinator responsible for coaching the outside linebackers said. "The second he bulled rushed. The third he put on a spin move. And the fourth, he faked the spin move and speed rushed the guy. 

"When I saw all that, it was like, Holy Mackerel, and that's a rookie." 

OK, that all might be fine and good. But to succeed at playing right outside linebacker in a 3-4, Ware has to do more than just rush the quarterback. He's got to cover tight ends and running backs. But darn it, I've seen him do that, too, so recognition will be his only problem there. 

And he has to be able to stand up against the run, and guarantee you offenses will place a bull's-eye right on the Cowboys' outside linebackers in this alignment, figuring they can reach the perimeter against these smaller players on the line of scrimmage. 

"No, he's strong," Zimmer says emphatically. 

But he looks kind of tall and lean. I mean, he's only 255 pounds. 

Zimmer says he's the strongest outside linebacker on the team. 

Strongest? The kid who just turned 23 on Sunday? 

Yep, evidently at the NFL combine strength test, Ware bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times. How good is that? Cowboys defensive tackle La'Roi Glover won the Strongest Man Competition at this year's Pro Bowl, benching 225 a winning 32 times. And we're talking a 288-pound, 31-year-old man here. Not a kid. 

So we got speed and strength, right? What about know-how? Hey, Ware is changing positions, and doing so in the NFL. That normally is not conducive to success. He must transition from playing with his hand on the ground to starting off in a two-point stance. 

He must figure out when he's dropping into coverage and when he's rushing. He must figure out, sometimes in the middle of a play, what adjustment he is supposed to make in mid-stream. And because of this being the 3-4, he also must know what everyone else is doing on a particular play, so he himself knows what to do. 

There will be some screw-ups. 

"When you have a player that does have some talent like him, it's up to the coaching staff - and I've been through it before with Lawrence (Taylor)," Parcells said. "You got to get this guy doing what he can do, and that's what we tried doing with Lawrence. Get him doing what he can do. And teach him the other stuff as you go and hope it doesn't cost you. 

"I think I told you this story before where Lawrence was supposed to drop off in coverage and he rushes and sacks the quarterback. And I'm yelling at him, I'm just a defensive coordinator at the time, but he made a sack, and then I said to him 'The play is going to come up again, do you know what to do? 'Yeah, I got it.' 

"Well it comes up again, and he does the same wrong thing again. But this time he sacks Neil Lomax and he fumbles and we pick it up and run it back for a touchdown. So he's got two mental errors and we got a touchdown and a sack out of it. (I told him), 'We don't even have what you're doing in.' And he told me, 'Well we had better put it in Monday.' That's the truth." 

The Cowboys should be so lucky. 

So see, any amount of skepticism eating into the optimism suddenly surround Ware probably is not fair since it exists for all the wrong reasons - all those past failures at the position. Ware has given no reason to doubt he's the real deal. 

He just has a lot of people excited - the owner, for sure, the head coach, the defensive coordinator and teammates, too. And I'm guessing he's got a bunch of you excited, too. 

Me, I'm trying to contain myself. History has taught me a few lessons. 

But I'm telling you, it's hard.   

MICK SHOTS

 
  Speaking of pass rushers, man, did Chris Canty look like a man among boys in his first-one-on-one pass rushing drill

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