Ware ready to roll with improved secondary

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have been added in hopes of making one of the Cowboys’ biggest weaknesses in 2011 one of their biggest strengths in 2012.

Last season, the Cowboys finished 23rd in pass defense and recorded 15 interceptions, 16 teams finished with more.

Claiborne and Carr, who are projected to be starters, will likely make opposing quarterbacks think twice about their decisions in the pocket. While that could result in an increase in interceptions it could also lead to more sacks.

A quarterback waiting an extra second for a receiver to get open means an extra second for arguably the game’s best pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware, to wreak havoc.

“Claiborne and Carr, those are really aggressive corners,” Ware said Wednesday at the team’s annual golf outing. “Our defense is aggressive, and that’s what it’s about, coming in and being able to stop the run first. We need corners that can come in and hit and also when it comes down to it, covering guys and giving the pass rush more time to get there. And they can do that.”

Despite a weak secondary the past two seasons, Ware has recorded 35 sacks in that time. An improved secondary could result in Ware breaking Michael Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5 sacks. Ware finished with 20 in 2008 and 19.5 in 2011.

But what matters more? Does a good secondary improve the pass rush or does a good pass rush improve the secondary?

The Cowboys will certainly get that answer this season.

“I think it depends on who you play,” Ware said. “If you play a guy that throws the ball really quick, there’s not going to be any pass rush, so it’s up to the corners to make that extra second. But if you’re playing a guy that wants to drop back and he’s going to have a lot of time back there, it’s up to the pass rush to get there and the cornerbacks to catch the ball and make some big plays.”

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said last week that he hurt the defense last season because he installed too much of his system too quickly in his first year with the team.

Not having the OTAs and minicamps last year because of the NFL lockout, Ryan says he put in the accelerated program, and it was a mistake.

Ware disagrees.

“I think being a professional you never can put too much on a guy,” Ware said. “It’s your job to learn what you need to learn and excel at what he wants you to do. I would never tell Coach Rob that he’s putting too much on a player because you can’t.

“But I know that mistakes we did make are on tape now. And we can correct them in these OTAs and minicamps that we didn’t have last year. We’re going to be rolling, I can tell you that.”

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota