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Old 12-11-2006, 08:23 AM   #1
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Default Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina
Also predicts that Polamalu will play

Monday, December 11, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Two weeks ago today, a surgeon pulled a bone fragment and loose cartilage out of Hines Ward's knee, another bump in a rocky road for the defending Super Bowl champs.

Neither that road, nor his play has come to an end, Ward said, because he plans to return to the starting lineup Sunday when the Steelers visit the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.

And he predicted Troy Polamalu will join him.

"Troy and myself, we want to come back," Ward said. "There are three games left."

Ward and Polamalu are among the ironmen on the Steelers. It's the first time Ward has missed two consecutive games and just three total in his nine-year career. Polamalu missed the first two games of his four-year career with a second-degree MCL knee sprain.

Between them, they have been to six Pro Bowls, and Ward is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and owns the Steelers' record with 631 pass receptions.

Polamalu continues to lead the fan-balloting at strong safety and, Ward, after a slow start, was back in Pro Bowl form at flanker. He has 57 receptions and six touchdowns in his 11 games, and his 13.8-yard average per catch is the third highest since he became a starter in 1999.

Ward's knee was hyperextended at Cleveland Nov. 19. He started the following week in Baltimore and caught four passes before his new injury developed. He was taken out of the game and had surgery the next morning.

"They took out some bone fragments that broke, and cleaned up some loose particles," Ward said. "It was just an extra piece of bone that was there, it's not like I needed it. While they were in there, they cleaned it all up. I shouldn't have a problem, it feels good, and the swelling's going down."

He planned to start running over the weekend. Ward said he could have played against the Cleveland Browns if the game were yesterday rather than Thursday.

"In the long run, I need to feel a lot better now and in the next couple of years."

After he caught just nine passes for 99 yards in the first three games, Ward heard whispers that he was either hitting a wall at age 30 after eight punishing years as the most physical wide receiver in the NFL or that his success had somehow made him fat. He even dropped a couple of passes, a rarity.

But the Steelers had fewer than 200 yards passing in each of the first four games, and Ward halted further talk of his play as he hit stride in October. Over a stretch of five games, he caught 35 passes for 546 yards and five touchdowns that ended with him being helped off the field at the end of a comeback victory in Cleveland with a hyperextended knee.

No matter how coach Bill Cowher lists him on the injury report this week, Ward has no doubt he will play against the Panthers Sunday.

"It's just a pride thing," Ward said. "It stinks being on the sideline, it eats at you.

"Playing Cleveland and Tampa Bay, there was no need [to rush back], those are teams we're supposed to beat. Now we have a stretch coming down to Carolina -- a lot of people picked them to win the Super Bowl -- and then Baltimore and Cincinnati to finish out.

"We're still mathematically in this thing, and we're going to take it one game at a time. We're getting 10 whole days until we play our next game."

The Steelers would have to win all three to go 9-7 and, even then, their playoff chances look bleak with five other teams ahead of them for the two AFC wild-card playoff spots.

No matter, there are games to be played, and Hines Ward wants to be part of them.

NOTES -- Willie Parker's rushing touchdown against Cleveland was his 10th of the season to go with three receiving scores. He moved ahead of Ward and three others on the Steelers' record books into a tie for third-most in a season with Jerome Bettis, who scored 13 in 2002. Louis Lipps holds the record with 15 in 1985. With 1,199 yards rushing, Parker is only 3 yards from his second-year total of 1,202, which is sixth on the list. He needs 233 yards in his final three games to move up to third. Barry Foster holds the club record with 1,690 in 2002, and Bettis is second with 1,665 in 1997.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06345/745260-66.stm
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Old 12-11-2006, 08:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

No doubt having Hines and Troy back for the last three is a best case scenario. I'd just hate to see either rush back to soon on a "pride thing" and get knocked out for the last two. I know that I'm biased but I REALLY want them for that game with the Bengals.
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Old 12-11-2006, 08:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

Carolina are there for the taking at this time, back-up QB, lack of confidence and a 3 game losing streak.

The Steelers have made short work of a couple of bottom feeding teams - lets see if they can step it up a notch.

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Old 12-11-2006, 09:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

Quote:
Originally Posted by floodcitygirl View Post
No doubt having Hines and Troy back for the last three is a best case scenario. I'd just hate to see either rush back to soon on a "pride thing" and get knocked out for the last two. I know that I'm biased but I REALLY want them for that game with the Bengals.



We all know Hines is a gamer, and it's really killing him not to be in the game. But I hope he and the team docs don't rush him back to soon and risk an even more serious injury.
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

This is a very refreshing thing to hear from Hines! I agree that I don't want him to rush back only to get hurt worse...or threaten his carreer.

The thing that I would like to point out on his comments is how different his additude is from the "Deucemeister" who had no problem modeling sweatsuits on the sidelines while his teammates were out there taking the hits...all this and collecting a ton of money for nothing...

I'll take ONE Hines Ward over 50 Dueces any day!!!!!

Mike in La Crosse, WI
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

just to clear something up about wards injury and procedure. he had arthroscopic surgury to REMOVE some lose bodies, hence the risk of further injury is no longer there, except for the risk every player faces every time they step on the field, whether they are 100% or playing with pain. this late in the season nobody is 100%

this isnt like d. mcnabb playing with a partially torn groin muscle that was fully torn by playing. this isnt like a partially torn tendon or muscle that can become fully seperated. he has a tiny little cut on his knee, and most people who have had cuts know they heal in about 2 weeks.

lace em up hines!
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

Good news........do I hear 3 cans of Steeler whoopass crankin' open???????
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

Great news,
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ward says he'll be ready to start at Carolina

Sweet! He'll be crucial if we expect a victory.
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