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'Excitement' builds for the 3-4 defense

DeMarcus Ware didn't have the season he hoped last year despite being healthy. But as the veteran defensive end enters his 11th season, he is looking forward to getting back to rushing the passer from the outside, thanks to Wade Phillips' 3-4 defensive scheme.

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Good morning, Broncos Country!

Today is the third day of the first week of offseason workouts, and so far lots of good things have been coming out of Dove Valley.

Given the number of positive posts from defensive players, it is safe to say these guys are fired up about the new plans for a more aggressive D that likes to get after the QB.

Defensive end DeMarcus Ware admitted Monday after the Broncos first offseason workout that he was definitely not ready to put the pads on - but he will be.

Mentioning not once, not twice - but three times - his "excitement" about the new season, Ware said he is ready to get to work and prepare for the pads.

And his excitement for getting to that stage is probably due in part to the much talked about move to a 3-4 now that new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is in charge of the scheme.

"It feels really good. I know his defense already, and I know how productive a lot of guys are in his defense," Ware said, pinpointing Von Miller, Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe as well as new free agent Antonio Smith and all the young linebackers. "Everybody is going to be able to thrive to a new level."

Ware, who was a Pro Bowl defensive end under Phillips head coaching tutelage at the Dallas Cowboys from 2007-10, loves what that defense means for both the opposing offense as well as for the Broncos defenders.

"In this type of defense, everybody has to know each other's job," said the eight-time Pro Bowler. "You never know who could be dropping, you never know who's rushing, but at the end of the day, the offenses really have to be keen on who's bringing the pressure because this is a pressure defense."

Nothing could sound better to a guy known as an edge rusher - brought in last year to presumably be a tandem force with Miller on the outside - who rarely had the full-on opportunity to get after the quarterback.

Ware will move back to the outside where he has thrived as a major quarterback threat, needing just seven more sacks to be in top 10 of the NFL's all-time list. Last season, Ware logged just 10 sacks as a Bronco - only better than two other seasons in his career. His best seasons for sacks came in 2008 with 20 and 2011 with 19.5.

As he enters his 11th season, Ware hopes to get back to those numbers.

"When you think about a pass rusher, you always think about how many times you get to rush the passer," Ware said, noting that in Wade's defense, "I know I'm going to get a lot of opportunities."

As will Miller who won't be asked to drop back into coverage much but will be unleashed to rush the passer on the strong side.

"And it's just knowing now you're not going to have a chipper a majority of the time, because if they want to chip, we're going to bring other guys," Ware said, noting that the defense can then force one-on-one matchups that will "really create some havoc out there."

The addition of Smith on the defensive line will help bring some veteran continuity to the defense too, Ware said. Since Smith has also played in Phillips' 3-4 scheme, the two of them can help teach as well as lead the younger players.

You can really hone in on the technique of the opposing offenses instead of having to worry about what you have to do if they're changing things. You can be more aggressive.   -DeMarcus Ware on the 3-4

"Both of us played with Wade [Phillips] and know exactly what to expect from his defense and keeping everything on the even keel and keeping everybody on the same page," Ware said, adding that they'll "need to lean on the younger guys" to make sure they are learning the defense. "That's what you need in the classroom."

And if Ware is being honest with himself, he's also happy about the lesser wear and tear on the body that the 3-4 affords.

"You're only going to get a certain amount of plays because you've got five men on the line now, and it really hones things down," he said, noting that instead of trying to read the entire offense, he can focus on what tackles are doing or the guards or the centers. "You can really hone in on the technique of the opposing offenses instead of having to worry about what you have to do if they're changing things. You can be more aggressive."

And what edge rusher isn't going to want that?

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