By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas (AP) — DeMarcus Ware has never missed a game in his seven years with the Dallas Cowboys, even after a scary head-first collision three seasons ago.
Only six days after that crushing blow in a December 2009 game against San Diego, Ware was back on the field in a dominating performance in a victory over previously undefeated and eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans.
But the six-time Pro Bowl linebacker said Wednesday that he still gets occasional neck stingers after contact in games. Ware sometimes gets a tingling sensation down his arm and it will go numb for a couple of seconds.
"Then I'll have all my strength, and it's like all right, wait a little while, and go back out there and keep playing," Ware said. "But sometimes that can take away from maybe one play or a big play you can make, or two plays in the game where it's key situation when you know you're wanting to be out there and playing."
Ware said he had never experienced such stingers before that game when his head rammed into the leg of a Chargers lineman. There were some anxious moments while Ware was immobilized on the field and his facemask removed from his helmet before he was taken off the field on a stretcher and then hospitalized for several hours.
Though he didn't start the following game against the Saints, the only one of his 112 regular season games without starting, Ware had a sack and forced fumble with 6 seconds left that clinched the victory.
When Ware missed last week's workout that was open to reporters, the Cowboys described his absence as because of a strained neck. Ware said Wednesday that he was getting X-rays and other tests that he called precautionary.
"I'm not worried about it," Ware said. "Really just make sure everything is all right and checking up and making sure it doesn't happen this year. You never can be 100 percent saying it's not going to happen when you're out there playing aggressive, but you've got to take the precautionary things in the offseason to make sure that it doesn't happen again, and that's what I was doing."
Ware, who has 99 career sacks, said the tests showed everything was good and normal, and that he felt great.
The linebacker said the stingers always go away in the offseason, but come back sometimes during the season. He said everything is good now, partly because of the workouts without pads.
"It's just going to be that way, you've just got to find some way to work through it and just do precautionary stuff," he said. "At the end of (last season), it flared up a little bit, and sometimes I would come out of the game, get little stingers here and there, but you've just got to work through it."
Ware said he has been fitted for new pads, including those for his shoulder and neck. He believes that will help in the future.
"I think about long-term health all the time, because you know with football, your body takes a bruising and just got to get out there and just play anyway," he said. "When your body tells you you can't play anymore, that's when you've got to stop and just can't keep doing it."
Notes: Fullback Lawrence Vickers left practice briefly Wednesday because of ants in his pants. Vickers, who is allergic to ants, went to the locker room with a trainer. He got rid of the ants, took an allergy shot and returned to practice without any further problems. ... The Cowboys' mandatory three-day minicamp begins next Tuesday.
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