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DeMarcus Ware has battled pain for Dallas Cowboys

It's been a big season for NFL pass-rushers. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith enter Sunday with 19.5 sacks, just three away from NFL great Michael Strahan's season record.

The NFL's top pass-rushing foursome of Watt, Smith, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake have combined for 69 sacks. Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware was in the top four last season, but has "just" 11.5 sacks this season. The relative downturn in production points back to a body that's been beaten up over three months.

Ware told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport this week that the rash of shoulder and elbow injuries he's had in 2012 are more than he's ever had to deal with in any individual season during his eight-year pro career.

"I'm feeling ... good enough to play on Sunday. That's good," Ware told Rapoport. "When you look at injuries, the majority of things are mental. You're not there, just playing, doing what you can do, if you can give it 100 percent, that's all you can ask for.

"I haven't played through the injuries I have, but you see a lot of guys banged up and if you can get out there and make some plays and stay consistent still, look at it that way. That's what this game is about: Going out there and being a gladiator, no matter what's wrong; sorta fighting through it mentally."

When healthy, Ware is probably the best in the business at getting to the quarterback. Ware and teammate Dez Bryant are less than 100 percent, but are aware their presence could be the difference in getting the Cowboys back to the playoffs.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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