ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – DeMarcus Ware was likened to a vintage Ferrari that simply needed new brakes.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the motor of the 34-year-old Denver Broncos pass rush specialist, though.
That was Von Miller’s take on Ware, a driving force behind Miller’s recent success. Ware is scheduled to have surgery Friday to repair a ruptured disk, ending what’s been an injury-filled season. Ware may have played his last game in Denver, possibly even the last game of his career.
Although, Miller hopes that’s far from the case.
“You can get those brakes fixed and he’s still going to be a Ferrari at the end of the day – a Ferrari around regular cars,” said Miller, whose team finishes up the season Sunday against an Oakland team trying to win the AFC West. “He still has gas in the tank and I would like to see him come back. He’s a champion. He’s a leader.”
Ware hinted that he’s not ready to hang it up just yet. On his Instagram account, he wrote: “Pedal is always to the metal and fuel is still in the tank. #VroomVroom.”
This has been a trying season for Ware. He missed training camp with a back issue. He sat out five games after breaking his forearm against Indianapolis on Sept. 18.
And now he’s been shut down with the defending Super Bowl champions playing for nothing but pride this weekend.
“Besides being a great player, he’s a really good leader,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “He’s been great for Von, been great for our football team. We played pretty good defense with him, even though he was banged up. Everybody is confident when he’s on the field.”
Ware may prove too expensive for the Broncos next season, especially with needs on offense and with heir apparent Shane Ray rounding into form as he applies the lessons taught to him by Ware.
“You hear all these horror stories about vets who don’t really rock with you or want to share information,” Ray said. “He’s so free to give people knowledge and make people better.
“Even if I went on the rush and I hit the quarterback, DeMarcus always takes it back and refines what I could’ve done better. He’s constantly pushing me for that perfection, constantly pushing me to be dominant and elite.”
Same with Miller, who’s become an even more well-rounded player since Ware’s arrival in 2014.
“What has DeMarcus meant to me? I can sit here all day and write a book about the moments DeMarcus has impacted my life,” Miller said. “If you know about Denver and the Denver Broncos, you know exactly what type of impact he had in my life and in my career.”
Ware has 138½ sacks over his 12-year career, which is eighth-most since 1982. His first sack was on San Francisco’s Tim Rattay in 2005. His most sacks are of New York Giants QB Eli Manning (14½).
Along the way, Ware’s sacked a new generation of quarterbacks (Marcus Mariota), the old guard (Tom Brady) and those no longer in the league (Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre).
He’s even sacked former teammate Peyton Manning – just once, in 2006, when Ware was with the Dallas Cowboys, who selected him with a first-round pick in 2005, and Manning with Indy.
“One thing about (Ware), he takes great care of himself,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s in amazing shape for his age.”
No arguments from Phillips.
“Wish I had his body,” Phillips cracked. “I mean, he’s still physically a presence. All you have to do is look at him. Hopefully, he’ll come back from that (back injury).”
While the nine-time Pro Bowler is resting, his fellow pass rushers will be applying the heat to Raiders backup QB Matt McGloin – with a work ethic Ware helped instill.
“It can just be the little subtle stuff,” Miller said. “Like when (Ware) comes in and watches film on his phone – it’s the little stuff that you observe, that you take.”
– By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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