IRVING, Texas — DeMarcus Ware began this week believing he would miss a game for the first time in his eight-year career.
Now the Dallas defensive end is thinking he might try to play Sunday in Philadelphia, despite being listed as doubtful after not practicing all week with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
The star pass rusher also found out that fellow 2005 draft pick Jay Ratliff won't play another game for the Cowboys after he was released.
"You've just got to keep playing," said Ware, who has played in 134 straight games, with 133 starts. "You've just got to look at it as a business."
Ware and Ratliff came from opposite ends of the draft eight years ago — Ware was the 11th overall pick, Ratliff the 224th selection in the seventh round. They became partners on the Dallas defensive front and went to four straight Pro Bowls together from 2008 to 2011.
While Ware started working feverishly Monday to recover from an injury sustained early in last weekend's win over Washington, Ratliff wasn't even around the first day he was eligible to be activated after six weeks on the physically unable to perform list.
The 32-year-old Ratliff injured a hamstring during the conditioning test before training camp, and his agent says he still hasn't completely recovered from groin surgery late last season. Coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones declined to respond to agent Mark Slough's claim that the injury was much more serious than the team let on by calling it a sports hernia surgery.
As messy as the split with Ratliff appears to be, Ware said his old teammate was actually at team headquarters Wednesday — the day he was released — and in "good spirits."
"It's sad not to have him here," Ware said. "But I just know that at the end of the day, for a player to have the opportunity to still be on the market and play and still do the things he can do, I think it's always a blessing and you've just got to look at it that way."
Ware has played hurt before — as recently as last year when he stayed on the field with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. He also has a history of neck problems, and has recently dealt with back issues, too.
This is the first lower-body injury, though, and Ware limped through several plays against the Redskins before giving in and settling for street clothes in the second half.
"I know that I can get through injuries but you never can say that one injury is worse than another," Ware said. "Just like I took it with that (neck) injury, you got to take it that whole week and make a game-day decision."
If Ware plays, it won't surprise Garrett, who says the franchise's career sack leader gets more leeway in a decision that ultimately will be made by the team's medical staff.
"He's quick, he's fast, explosive, all that stuff," Garrett said. "But again, I think the intangible traits are what make DeMarcus Ware who he is. He's got great passion for the game, a great work ethic, a great competitive spirit. And he brings it every week. He's done that for a long, long time."
The 31-year-old Ware says he isn't trying to keep a streak alive. He just says his body heals quickly, and he doesn't waste any time trying to get ready.
"You don't want to be defined as just a number," said Ware, who nonetheless will be because of his lofty career sack total of 115. "You want to be somebody that when you get out there, you're wreaking havoc and playing. If I can do that this week, I'm going to get out there and play."
Ware said one thing's for sure: Suggestions that he would miss three to four weeks will be wrong.
NOTES: Like Ware, RB DeMarco Murray is listed as doubtful after not practicing all week. He has an MCL sprain in his left knee. ... WR Miles Austin (hamstring) is listed as probable even though he didn't practice Thursday or Friday ... DE Jason Vega was signed off the practice squad to fill the vacant roster spot. ... DE Edgar Jones (groin/abdominal strain) was placed on injured reserve with a chance to return. He could play as early as Dec. 15 against Green Bay. ... RB Lance Dunbar (hamstring) and LB DeVonte Holloman (neck) are out.
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