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Depleted Eagles' O-line bracing for Ware

reuben frank csnphilly

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 06:07 PM

Frank

Depleted Eagles' O-line bracing for Ware

November 9, 2012, 5:00 pm

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The Eagles’ offensive line is beaten, battered and banged up. And the NFL’s best pass rusher is on his way to Philly.

Sack machine DeMarcus Ware leads the Cowboys into the Linc Sunday, and he’ll be greeted by an offensive line in shambles.

Ware has 108½ sacks in 7½ seasons, and only Hall of Famer Reggie White had more sacks in his first eight seasons, 124.0 from 1985 through 1992 – his eight years with the Eagles.

“You’ve got to know where he is at all times,” left tackle Demetress Bell said. “He’s one of the best pass rushers in the league right now. So you have to get a body on him, that’s all there is to it. You have to get two, three bodies on him if you can.”

The responsibility to stop Ware will be spread out among an offensive line missing four of five projected starters. The Cowboys move Ware all over the defensive line, but Bell, starting Sunday at left tackle, and right tackle King Dunlap will both have their hands full.

“It’s not just one side, he lines up on the right side, the left side, and he’s just as good on either side,” Bell said. “I don’t think I’ve blocked anybody like him. He can run the play down, stop the run, rush the passer. He can do everything.”

Ware is tied for second in the NFL this year with nine sacks. With one more sack, he’ll have his seventh consecutive double-digit sack season.

“DeMarcus Ware can absolutely wreck a game if you allow him to,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “He is one of those special players – one of the best that has ever played.

“[This] is certainly one of the great fronts in this league at this time. He’s a big reason for that. They have some other players that are playing lights out as well.”

Ware has 15 ½ career sacks in 13 games against the Eagles. Only Lawrence Taylor (25), Michael Strahan (21.5), Leonard Marshall (19), Ken Harvey (16) and Dexter Manley (16) have had more.

“A lot of guys line up in different places, but usually they’re stronger on one side,” rookie right guard Dennis Kelly said. “He’s just as good wherever he lines up, and that makes him even more dangerous. He can make plays from anywhere.”

Bell, benched for Dunlap only to get his job back after Todd Herremans’ season-ending foot injury Monday, said it’s important to be mentally strong when facing a player like Ware.

If – when – he makes a big play, forget it and move on. Keep battling. Don’t get discouraged.

“You have to block it out,” he said. “If you do bad, you’ve got to block it out and go on to the next play. You let that play stick around, you’re still messing up four or five plays later. If he makes a big play, you just have to keep going.”

Ware on Sunday will face an offensive line coming off a seven-sack disaster in New Orleans and now missing Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins and Herremans from the projected opening-day lineup.

Much of the criticism the Eagles have faced during their four-game losing streak has focused on the offensive line, and they know it.

“You can’t listen to a lot of those things and you can’t care [about] what people are saying,” Kelly said. “If it affects you too much, it can take you out of your game.

“We’ll just have to approach it like it is the beginning of the season and be aggressive, take care of things, and do our job. That’s the most important thing. If we can do that, we should be fine.”

The Eagles have now allowed 27 sacks this year – only five fewer than all of last year. Only the Cards (41), Packers (29) and Bears (28) have allowed more.

The Eagles allowed 32 sacks all last year. They’re on pace to nearly double that.

“I don’t think we’re down,” Bell said. “I don’t think our confidence is down at all. We know the job we’ve got to do, we’ve just got to go out and do it. We believe in ourselves, it’s just a matter of going out and showing everybody.”

The Eagles and Cowboys, both 3-5, play at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Linc.

This is the first time since 1965 the Cowboys and Eagles both have a losing record after eight games. In 1965, Dallas was 2-6 and the Eagles were 3-5.

Unless, they account for Ware, the Eagles will likely have their first five-game losing streak within a single season since the first five games of 1998.

“He’s a great player for a reason,” Kelly said. “He plays really hard and he plays really well. We have to make sure we know where he is, be aggressive with him, and take care of him.”

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com