Ward happy w/turnout & Bettis coming back
Hines Ward likes what he is seeing these days. As he looks around the team?s practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex, he is pleased with the number of teammates who are in for the start of the team?s voluntary workouts.
Ward knows that it was those workouts one year ago that set the stage for the success they had in 2004, finishing 15-1 before losing in the AFC Championship game.
?Last year was a magical year,? said Ward. ?It was the team concept, no particular player stood out. I think it was a total team effort. You have to credit that to us coming back and getting refocused and having the majority of the team here during the off-season. We are trying to do that again this year. It?s great to have veteran players back.?
Ward is joined by fellow veterans like Jerome Bettis, Aaron Smith, Mike Logan and Deshea Townsend, among others, for the workouts and he sees a lot of value in players who are leaders being there.
?For the veteran guys to be here to show the younger guys that football is all year long is important,? said Ward. ?Having Jerome, myself, Deshea, and some of the other guys back, the younger guys can see that those guys are back early and they are trying to go out and commit themselves to go out and have another great year.
?It feels good to be back. Jerome and I just finished working out together. It?s great to have some of our veteran guys come back on the first day of voluntary workouts and just to start it all back over again.?
In addition to working out, the players had a chance to catch up on how things went in the off-season and to talk a little bit about last year, before they move forward on the 2005 season.
?We had a chance to reflect on last year,? said Ward. ?We had a great year. We were one game away and hopefully this year a lot of guys can come back and know how it felt at the end of that championship game and see if we can take it further.?
There is one player who appears to be set to help the team take it further and Ward couldn?t be happier. Bettis has indicated that unless he has a physical setback that he will play next season. That means a lot to Ward, who was emotional at the end of last season when Bettis? future was uncertain.
?It?s great to have him back,? said Ward. ?Just to get another opportunity to see if we can go all the way to the Super Bowl. But it?s great having Jerome back for one more year.
?I lobbied for it a couple of times. We had a couple of vacations together and every second I reached over and told him that you have another year. He just busted out laughing. Everybody was lobbying for Jerome to come back for one year and I think that it worked a little bit.?