View Full Version : Steelers Notebook: Ward takes another day off, hopes to play Sunday

11-24-2006, 06:35 AM
Steelers Notebook: Ward takes another day off, hopes to play Sunday
Friday, November 24, 2006

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hines Ward was like most other workers yesterday-- he had off for Thanksgiving.

With an important game looming Sunday in Baltimore, Ward did not practice for the second day in a row in an attempt to allow his hyperextended knee as much time as possible to recuperate.

"I'll try to give it a go [today]," Ward said. "I won't push it to the limit where I could hurt myself even more. But it's making improvements every day."

Ward, the AFC's eighth-leading receiver with 53 catches, has had 35 catches for 546 yards in the past five games, but he was injured making a catch in the comeback victory Sunday in Cleveland when Browns safety Sean Jones hit his knee making a tackle.

"I'm going to do everything possible to be on the field," Ward said. "I'm walking better. That's encouraging. That's telling me I'm getting better each day."

Meanwhile, cornerback Deshea Townsend (ankle) and running back Najeh Davenport (groin) returned to practice.

No swimming

At least one potential Thanksgiving tradition ended yesterday: nose tackle Chris Hoke did not jump into the Monongahela River in full practice uniform.

Hoke did that last year when defensive end Aaron Smith and former Steelers defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen dared him to do so for $1,000. But there were no bets yesterday, maybe because it wasn't as cold as last year.

The Steelers practiced indoors on Thanksgiving Day in 2005, and the entrance to their indoor facility is located right near a path to the river.

"Too warm this year," Hoke said.

Turnovers hot topic

It is not a good mix -- the team that leads the AFC in takeaways against the team that leads the NFL in giveaways. Or a secondary that leads the league in interceptions against a quarterback who leads the league in interceptions.

The Steelers had three more giveaways against the Browns, pushing their season total to 27. Of those, 17 have been interceptions, including 10 in the past four games by Ben Roethlisberger.

The Ravens lead the NFL with 18 interceptions and trail only the Chicago Bears (29) in takeaways (26).

"You hear coaches talk all the time about turnovers being the great equalizer," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "Their turnover difficulties have offset just how good of a football team this is. When they don't turn the ball over, they are pretty good. And, even when they do, they tend to still come back at you pretty good."

Changes are coming

Coach Bill Cowher indicated the other day that he will make changes on the kick-coverage unit, which ranks last in the NFL. Currently, only two starters -- safety Ryan Clark and cornerback Ike Taylor -- are used to cover kickoffs.

"It's going to happen," said special-teams co-captain Clint Kriewaldt.

The Steelers have allowed five returns of 45 yards or longer in the past seven games, including a 92-yarder for touchdown by Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs.

"He's made us aware there will be changes and those problems that we had will be rectified," said Sean Morey, another special-teams co-captain.


11-24-2006, 06:37 AM
Steelers notebook

By Scott Brown
Friday, November 24, 2006

? Joey Porter anticipated as many as 20 of his teammates joining the outside linebacker and his family for Thanksgiving dinner. Porter said he opened his house up to any of his teammates on Thanksgiving Day, especially those who didn't have family in the area. He did insist on two things: Exclusive rights to the TV remote control and that his guests have second, and even third helpings. "I don't need to keep (them)," Porter said of leftovers, "because I'm not trying get to 260 (pounds)." When asked which teammate he expected to eat the most, Porter didn't hesitate to answer. "Big Hamp," he said of nose tackle Casey Hampton. "No question."

? Several Steelers echoed similar sentiments to what coach Bill Cowher said earlier in the week about the no-huddle offense. It's nice to have, guard Alan Faneca said, but not something the Steelers want to use on a regular basis. The Steelers used the no-huddle almost exclusively during the fourth quarter in Cleveland, where they scored three touchdowns to rally past the Browns. "We do it well," Faneca said. "I don't think we're the type of team you're going to see get out there and just keep doing it. We're a team where ball control and clock control is when we're playing our best."

? Steelers receiver Hines Ward did some light jogging Thursday but didn't practice, and his status for Sunday's game in Baltimore is still in question. Ward, who hyperextended his left knee in the Steelers' 24-20 win over the Browns last Sunday, will try to practice some today. "I'm not going to push it to the limit where I can hurt it even more," Ward said. The four-time Pro Bowler is listed as questionable for the 1 p.m. game. Ward caught 14 passes for 156 yards in two games against the Ravens last year. He said he was optimistic he would play Sunday, adding that his knee was "getting better every day."

? In addition to Ward and wide receiver Willie Reid (foot), Santonio Holmes didn't practice yesterday because of the flu. Running back/kick returner Najeh Davenport, who strained his groin last Sunday, did practice yesterday and said he expected to play against the Ravens. "I feel pretty good," Davenport said.


1 -- Fumble recovery by the Steelers through their first six games.

5 -- Fumble recoveries by the Steelers in their past two games.

10 -- Consecutive games in which the Ravens had at least one sack and one interception before last Sunday.

212 -- Total return yards by B.J. Sams in the Ravens' 24-10 win over the Falcons last Sunday.