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DeMarcus Ware says his task is the same, but he might see reduced offseason reps


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --DeMarcus Ware's primary task is unchanged; job No. 1 is for him to get to the quarterback.

But the process by which he builds toward that during the offseason and training camp will be tweaked as he returns for his third Broncos season and 12th in the NFL.

"I wouldn't think my role will be different. I mean, my role is always sacking quarterbacks, so that's going to stay the same," Ware said Monday afternoon. "The coaches are staying the same, the trainers are the same, the strength guys are the same, so I don't think my role is going to change.

"I think maybe the way we'll approach the season [will change]," he continued. "Instead of doing 50 plays in OTAs, you do 30. This is my 12th year now; it's not like I don't know what to do -- especially in Wade [Phillips]' defense. Just protecting your body and making sure that you're ready for the opportunities to come during the season."

Because the Broncos have four pass rushers who can wreak havoc -- Ware, Von Miller, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray -- Ware can be used in the most optimal situations. But it's in the growth of Barrett and Ray that Ware finds his optimism that the Broncos' edge rush can be even better than it was during its dominant 2015.

Both Barrett and Ray relied on their athleticism when they first arrived, Ware said. Now they can add cerebral aspects, including how to attack certain formations and alignments.

"I told [Ray], 'You can use your athleticism to a certain point, but when you can think about the mental aspects of the game, the fundamentals, the techniques, that's what's going to get you over the top. And how consistent can you be for a whole game, instead of a play here, a play there. When it comes to crunch time, are you going to show up?'" Ware said.

"I think that's how those guys are going to mature this year, and they have a whole other year -- all of us together."

And the result could be astounding, if Ware's prediction comes true.

"I think it's going to be a better year than last year," he said.

That this is possible is thanks to a successful contract restructure between Ware and Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway, who managed to keep the future Hall of Famer in the midst of a wave of free-agent departures.

"He [Elway] knows I'm not here for money. I'm here to win championships," Ware said. "I'm here to go over and beyond and build a legacy for the Denver Broncos. And I think that was a smart move by everybody, and I'm glad I'm still able to be here playing."

Ware knew all along that a contract restructuring was likely, given the construction of his contract -- with a high cap figure, but a relatively minimal amount of guaranteed money in the third and final season of the deal.

"I was welcoming it," he said. "I know it's that part of my career where what I bring to the game, it's an intangible thing of leadership and motivating the guys and getting out there and playing when I can.

"But also you've got guys like Shaq and Shane that have been productive. And one thing that I decided -- and I told them -- [was that] I feel like those guys are ready, but they also need that veteran leadership.

"[I said,] 'Whatever they need to do keep me here.' I was very involved."

And with Ware back, the Broncos are better equipped to fill the leadership void created by the retirement of quarterback Peyton Manning.

Ware would be a leader in any locker room he entered. But with two seasons under his belt in Denver, he's built relationships throughout the Broncos' locker room, manifesting itself in myriad ways -- including the trip to southern Africa he took with Demaryius Thomas in February.

"You start being that leader in the locker room, and that goes a long way in keeping everything in line, motivating guys in practice, little small things on the field. But experience goes a long way," Ware said.

I always say, 'Don't put the cart before the bull.' And I feel like that's what Elway did, saying, 'Yes, we lost a big leader in Peyton, but we still need our guy. We need our solid guy that's keeping the guys right, and making sure that the maturity on the team stays at a level to where everybody stays focused."

At that, the Broncos can just follow Ware's example. From rushing the passer to leading a defense, few have ever done better.

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