It's that time of the year again. Mile High Report is in the midst of our annual 90 players in 90 days roster breakdown. Last year went fairly well, but continuing today and through Aug. 28th, we'll break down every player on the Denver Broncos roster.
There are multiple ways to show value to a team. There’s performance on the court, field or rink. There’s impact in the locker room. There’s the benefit they bring to the community that they play in.
Name: DeMarcus Ware
Height: 6'4" Weight: 258
Age: 34 Experience: 12
Then there are players who transcend and do it all. When they speak, teammates and even coaches listen. When they play, you stop to watch.
DeMarcus Ware is one of those players.
The Broncos outside linebacker has yet to step foot on the practice field and he’s still the most valuable aspect of this team. Ware makes his teammates better, on both sides of the ball, regardless of the position they play. He makes the coaches better.
Since his arrival in Denver two summers ago, he’s proven over and over again it’s all about the Broncos. He always puts the team first. He showed that again this offseason when he took a reduction in salary to stay with the Super Bowl champions.
Ware showed it again when he and Demaryius Thomas went on a trip to South Africa in March. I detailed that trip and what I thought we could take away from it.
Ware brings an attitude that is all business, but still has fun. It is a game, after all. His smile is as bright as a Colorado summer sky and it seems like it always shines.
While Ware, more than likely, won’t play in the preseason, he is on track to return to the practice field next week and be on the field for the opener Sept. 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
“He’s real close,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said after practice on Tuesday. “I think you could see him be a part of the team here in four, five days. That’s what we’re thinking. He’s made that much progress. Hopefully next week I’m sitting here talking about him playing on the field.”
When Ware is healthy, he showed in the playoffs the high level he can still play at. If not for Von Miller’s historic performance, Ware was right there to get Super Bowl 50 MVP.
Demarcus Ware hit the field about 7:50 am and ran some drills. Take my word for it. He looks good.— Tom Helmer (@Tom_Helmer) August 16, 2016
Just keep Ware healthy and ready to go for the expected playoff push and march to Super Bowl LI in Houston.
With the depth Denver has at the outside linebacker position, there’s no need for Ware to play all three downs. There’s no need for him to get on the field unless it’s a passing situation and he gets to do what he does best: pressure the quarterback. Don’t risk his back injury trying to tackle a running back. Leave that for Miller, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett.
Keep Ware as fresh as possible for later in the season and the playoffs. We saw a season ago the hell Miller and Ware can raise on opposing offenses. That’s what it’s all about in 2016.
His back and subsequent health status.
That’s the only thing that could throw a kink in the Broncos’ and Ware’s plan this season. You never know when a back injury can flare up; especially for an outside linebacker. That’s why he’s been kept off the field throughout organized team activities and training camp.
But when he walked by me on Saturday after practice, he looked really, really good. Ware appeared to be in phenomenal shape. There’s no doubt he needs to get reps and in “football shape.” With a veteran like Ware, it won’t take that long. He’s been down this path a time or 12.
Ware has shown he’s still an elite pass rusher and makes this defense better. For that to happen, he needs to be on the field. He also needs to be on the field when it matters most.
Ray after practice on Wednesday: “Me and DeMarcus talk a lot. He watches me; he watches my pass rush. He watches everything. When I do a move or something in the run game, he sees it. He always comes back and critiques me a little bit more. DeMarcus always tells me, ‘You’re beating the guy, but I want you to get the sack.’ So that shows me that he wants me to be complete. He wants me to be perfect. I take all of those critiques that he gives me, as well as all of the advice he gives me, as far as what I’m doing and go implement them in what I do in games and in practice. It has definitely made me a better player having him around.”
When Ware is healthy, he’s still one of the best in the NFL. He will help make this defense even more unstoppable than it was a season ago.
As long as he stays healthy, watch out.