ENGLEWOOD, Colo. >> Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday with the plan to have him ready for the season opener against Carolina.
Ware missed training camp with a back issue that kept him out of five games in 2015, but he said he feels much better than he did during Denver’s 24-10 win over Carolina in the Super Bowl last February.
“I was probably playing at 70 percent in the Super Bowl, still trying to be a little bit effective. Now I feel like I’m 94 percent,” he said, referring to his jersey number. “I feel great.”
He took part in the walkthrough and drills at the beginning of Tuesday’s practice before going in to work with strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson. Ware came back and watched the rest of practice from the sidelines.
“He did all the individual, all the walkthrough and then he went with Luke for about 20 minutes and worked even harder,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “DeMarcus is doing good, he’s right on schedule to get to Carolina, which is where we’re trying to go. You’ll see him do a little more each day.”
Ware is entering his 12th NFL season and third with Denver after starting his career with Dallas. He didn’t miss a game in his first eight years with the Cowboys, and his 20 sacks in 2008 led the NFL. He has 134 1/2 career sacks, 17 1/2 with the Broncos.
Ware didn’t take part in any of Denver’s offseason workouts because of his back injury.
Ware said he isn’t concerned about playing in the last two preseason games and that the goal is to have him at full strength for the Broncos’ first game on Sept. 8. He acknowledged that while he feels great, he needs to get up to game speed.
“You have to get out there and do it,” he said. “See the ball hiked by the quarterback, see the formations, see what everybody else is doing and getting that feel. I got some of that feel (Tuesday).”
Ware teamed with fellow linebacker Von Miller to anchor a stingy Denver defense last season that got better in the playoffs. The pair combined for 8 1/2 sacks in the Broncos’ three postseason games. Ware had two in the win over the Panthers.
That was his last time on a football field until Tuesday.
“If we get to Carolina and he’s playing, that’s been the plan all along,” Kubiak said. “But you’re not going to see him play 60 plays.”
Also Tuesday, quarterback Trevor Siemian didn’t throw because of a sore right shoulder. Kubiak said Siemian is day to day but is still the starter for Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Siemian hurt his shoulder trying to tackle San Francisco’s Ed Reid on an interception in Saturday’s 31-24 preseason loss to the 49ers.
“I expect him to be there but it’s going to be a day-to-day process,” said Kubiak, who classified Siemian’s injury as a bruise. “He’s not used to tackling.”
Siemian took part in some drills early and then handed the ball off in a scrimmage but stood by while Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch ran passing plays.
Lynch got a bulk of the reps, working with the first team and also running the scout team. He was picked off by cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and safety Darian Stewart on passes to the flat.
“The kid’s out here running the Rams’ offense, the Broncos’ offense. It’s very, very difficult,” Kubiak said. “That’s what gives you a chance to get better. You’ve got to wear a lot of hats being a young player on a team. You’ve got to come here on a given day and do a lot of things.”
NOTES: CB Aqib Talib did not practice because of illness. … DE Derek Wolfe and LB Dekoda Watson both were excused from practice to deal with personal issues. … Kubiak said OL Darrion Weems is in the concussion protocol but is “doing well.” His status for Saturday is unknown.