Count Ray Lewis among the big fans of Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Lewis is known as one the greatest linebackers to ever play the game. By the end of his career, Ware may be mentioned in the same breath.
"As a man, I've got real love for him," Lewis said. "The way he plays the game is the way the game should be played. … I've always been a fan of D-Ware for a long time."
Lewis and Ware met during the Pro Bowl a couple years ago.
Lewis said they hit it off from the first conversation they had. Since then, they've kept in touch through phone calls and texts.
"You respect every next step for him because you know he is going to give you everything he has," Lewis said.
As a rookie, Ware almost immediately stepped into being one of the top defensive players in the league in 2005. Not much has changed since.
Head Coach John Harbaugh called Ware a "game wrecker" and "one of the premier players in the National Football League." Ravens Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda said he's "one of the elite of the elite."
The list of adjectives could go on, but Ware's resume speaks for itself.
He has averaged 13 sacks per year over the last seven seasons. Ware led the NFL in sacks twice with 20 in 2008 and 15.5 in 2010. The six-time Pro Bowler is currently on pace for another 20-sack season and has three forced fumbles in four games this year.
The last time the Ravens faced Ware in 2008, he had six tackles and one sack. By Ware's stats that year, it was a below-average day.
Heading into Sunday's matchup, Harbaugh said Ware is a player the Ravens must specifically game plan for. They could chip him with a running back or use an extra tight end to block him.
Problem is, the Cowboys also use a lot of stunts and mix their pressures with aggressive play calling by [add] Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, brother of former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan. Ware will rush from either side of the line.
"DeMarcus Ware, without question, is a guy you have to know where he is at all times," Harbaugh said. "The Ryan family package is in full bloom."
Ravens left tackle Michael Oher will have his hands full once again.
Oher is coming off a game in which he had trouble against another top-flight pass rusher in Kansas City's Tamba Hali, who notched two sacks last Sunday. Ware has a similar mold to Hali. He's tall (6-foot-4) and big (254 pounds).
Oher said he and the offensive line have been focusing on what they called the "Six-Second Rule."
They want to block through the whistle because they're surrendering sacks after originally having sound blocks. Oher said the outlook is that if they give Flacco time, "he's going to eat you up."
But holding Ware back for that long will be a major challenge.
"[Ware's] a complete pass rusher," Oher said. "He studies guys'* *weaknesses and, if you fall asleep on him, he has a lot of ways he can beat you. The best thing to do is just study him the best you can and play fundamental football against him."
Ware's first step is particularly explosive. He also finishes when he gets around the quarterback, has a strong bull rush, an inside move and is stout against the run.
"Honestly it's everything," Yanda said. "It's not just one thing; that's why he's so good. … He's like their Terrell Suggs."