Cowboys LB Ware feeling good, so status vs. Saints is hopeful

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware has made substantial progress and could play Saturday night in New Orleans, less than one week after a scary hit that left him sprawled on the field with a strained neck.

Ware didn't practice Wednesday, but he attended team meetings, went through a walkthrough session and even worked out.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said everything looked good for Ware on the X-rays and other exams that the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker went through to see if the swelling had gone down in his neck and to make sure there were no lingering problems.

"I don't think structurally there's a lot of big problems," Phillips said. "He's still got a sore neck. How sore he is I think is more of a key than any structural problem. He's almost got full range of motion and he hasn't lost any strength in his neck .... It's a good sign for us."

Earlier Wednesday, outside the locker room when it was open to reporters, Ware was smiling and said he felt good.

"It's going good. I'm about to go work out right now," Ware said. "I'm just taking it day by day."

Ware has said he wants to play Saturday night against the undefeated Saints, who have the NFL's best offense. Ware has never missed a game, starting all 77 since he was the 11th overall draft pick in 2005.

"His attitude is real good. He wants to play, you know that," Phillips said. "I don't think he feels bad, I don't think he's feeling like he's hurt right now. That's why we're optimistic."

Phillips still described Ware as day to day as far being completely cleared and said the team "would be cautious, too."

Ware hurt his neck Sunday when he slammed headfirst into a San Diego lineman in the Cowboys' loss to the Chargers. Ware was taken off the field on a stretcher and briefly hospitalized before being released that night.

The Cowboys have an abbreviated practice Thursday, which will be like their regular Friday because it is a short week of preparation.

Phillips said Ware still could play against the Saints even if he doesn't practice.

"I'm not going to punish him, or the team, if he doesn't practice," Phillips said.

The coach also said Ware likely won't be limited if he does play.

"You could limit his snaps some, but again, he's in good shape," Phillips said. "If he's well, I think he could be well enough to play a lot of plays. If he's not, he won't."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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