Signing Ware Priority No. 1

With the official start of training camp just two days away, the Dallas Cowboys are now in the process of trying to sign all of their 2005 draft picks.

But make no mistake; there is one player among this year's rookies that must be signed before the start of camp.

His name? Demarcus Ware.

Sure, the Cowboys need all of their picks signed, sealed, and delivered before the first practice on Saturday. After all, there is no denying the importance of having every rookie report to training camp on time.

But in the grand scheme of things, having Ware report to Oxnard this week with a signed contract in hand is clearly priority No. 1 for the organization.

With Dallas switching to the 3-4 defense, and with Ware moving from his defensive end position in college to outside linebacker in the NFL, having Ware available for the start of training camp is absolutely critical.

In addition, keep in mind that the 3-4 defense is a brand new element to most of the 84-man pre-camp roster, as well as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. The importance of having all of the key components of this new defense ready to go for the start of camp is only amplified by that fact.

Also, the Cowboys have made no secret about the fact that they are depending on Ware to become the pass rushing specialist they think he can be this season. In an ideal world, they are expecting him to become an impact player sooner rather than later.

"They need to play and play immediately. All of these guys need to come in and play," owner Jerry Jones said of his draft picks earlier this year. "I hope we can get off the field on third down now."

The good news is, talks with Ware's agent, Pat Dye, began earlier this week, and barring some sort of complete breakdown in communication, Ware should report to training camp with a signed contract.

Still, the importance of signing Demarcus Ware before the start of training camp is clear, as his arrival in Oxnard will signal a new beginning to the Cowboys' defense.

Hopefully, that arrival will also include a signed contract that will allow this talented rookie to hit the ground running. Anything less would be one of the few disappointments of the entire offseason.

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