It's way too early to sound the alarms about the Steelers' offense, Hines Ward said Sunday.
Yes, he realizes the first-team unit failed to score a touchdown in four preseason games. And yes, he realizes the receiving corps, other than him, has a lot to prove.
But he feels good about the five pass-catchers he'll be working with this season, including Antwaan Randle El, free-agent signee Cedrick Wilson, seldom-used vet Lee Mays, rookie free-agent Nate Washington and special teams ace Sean Morey.
Outside of Ward, no Steelers wideout has caught more than 47 passes in a season. Mays, who is nursing a hamstring injury, has 11 career catches, Morey one and Washington none.
"I know people are starting to panic, but this group needs time to progress," he said. "We know we're not going to start the season at the top, but we'll progress."
Randle El is in his first season as a starter, and Wilson is trying to learn a new system after playing four seasons in San Francisco, where he caught 47 passes last year. Mays hasn't garnered much playing time in his three seasons, while Morey, a special-teams ace, and Washington are unknown commodities, to some extent.
The group failed to jell with starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the preseason. He went 16 of 36 for 145 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
"It was easier for Ben last year (as a rookie) because we had veterans, guys like myself, 'Plex' (Plaxico Burress) and Antwaan," Ward said. "This year, myself and Antwaan are really the only veteran guys. Cedrick is coming in from a new system, and Lee hasn't played much. But I'm not too concerned. It's just a matter of us getting on the same page."