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Old 05-31-2007, 12:40 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, May 31, 2007

This time of year is as good as any for NFL teams to tinker, which might explain tight end Heath Miller's lining up as a wideout and Hines Ward's lining up as a slot receiver.

But such a formation represents more than experimentation during the organized team activity practices that the Steelers have been holding at their South Side facility.

As Ward said, it is part of the offense the Steelers plan to use next season -- and part of the premise that if they spread the field, their receivers will get a favorable matchup that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can exploit.

"We're putting in the foundation of working on it now and getting a feel, getting a rhythm," Ward said Wednesday after a voluntary practice. "As training camp comes, we'll be hitting on all cylinders as far as the hurry-up offense and the no-huddle. There's no question we're going to use it. It's going to be a focal part of our packages.

"It feels comfortable, and (Roethlisberger) likes it. The more and more a quarterback feels comfortable with it, the more and more we're going to run it."

Ward certainly isn't raising any objections to the new offense, even though it will mean extra playbook study for the four-time Pro Bowler since he will move around more than in past seasons.

Ward is particularly excited about the opportunity to line up as a slot receiver, particularly when the Steelers spread the field and are in no-huddle mode. The nine-year veteran said it will make him much harder to defend than when he is on the outside and opposing teams have the option of giving their cornerback help from a safety.

"Me playing slot a lot more takes the double-team off me," said Ward, who is poised to break John Stallworth's team record for career receiving yards this season. "When you know where I'm at all the time as far as being on the outside, you can play Cover 2 to Hines all of the time. Now, Hines can play outside, inside, line up in the backfield, move around to a lot of positions. It's going to give me a lot more opportunities, but it should help open up a lot of things for other guys."

That includes running back Willie Parker.

Ward said a more wide-open offense doesn't mean the Steelers will get away from running the ball. They will, he said, take a more creative approach to moving the ball, and that includes shorter passes that should help make Roethlisberger and the offense more efficient.

The Steelers ranked sixth in the NFL last season in third-down conversions, but Ward said he expects them to improve on their conversion rate of 42.9 percent.

"You pick up 5 yards on every down, and you ought to have success on third-down conversions, and that's what we want, to go get our third-down conversion a little higher, our completion percentage a little higher," said Ward, who had four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2001-04. "You don't have to go deep all of the time. You can have an effective passing game short, nitpick here and there, and then take your shots when the opportunity presents itself."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_510239.html
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

1) shhhh hines. litp may relay this information to the patriots and put us at a distinct disadvantage.

2) good to see hines refering to himself in 3rd person, ala joe horn.

3) a far cry from when hines was asked to play the slot after edwards was ditched, when he assumed he would play second fiddle to "plax".
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
1) shhhh hines. litp may relay this information to the patriots and put us at a distinct disadvantage.
Naw, it's just a smokescreen.
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

Expand the playbook? Thought they were down sizing.
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

I would like to see ward in alot my trick play to utlize his veristaily
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

im really interested to see what this two back set is going to bring to the table
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Old 05-31-2007, 05:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.
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Old 05-31-2007, 07:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
1) shhhh hines. litp may relay this information to the patriots and put us at a distinct disadvantage.

2) good to see hines refering to himself in 3rd person, ala joe horn.

3) a far cry from when hines was asked to play the slot after edwards was ditched, when he assumed he would play second fiddle to "plax".
LOL

That always stands out for me aswell - when a guy refers to himself in the 3rd person it seems slightly bizarre.

So, im thinking having Hines 'in the slot' would mean even better blocking close to the LOS for Willie Parker right?

Going over the middle looking for contact shouldn't prove too disturning for the guy either.

That 3rd down coversion % came as a slight surprise (LITP will make the Patriots aware of this) ranking as high as 6th in the NFL.

When you look at the at the top 10 rated 3rd down convertors - it turns out that 9 of them made the postseason (the only team who didn't was obviously the Steelers).



Its another indicator that turnovers and lack of discipline were the main problems areas last year - rather than any lack of actual ability to make plays.

Which is a good thing going into this year.

Not doomy and gloomy at all
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Old 05-31-2007, 08:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

Well, don't completely forget that we trailed late in games quite a bit. Defenses leaned a bit more toward the bend-don't-break prevent style, which means "give up yards, not points." So, while there were some great moments offensively last season, I think we had a skewed conversion rate because teams didn't want to give up the late big play and instead let us wear out the clock by giving us 4, 5, 6 yards per play.

But I'd imagine we still would have been in the top half of the league because I do agree with LITP (gasp!) that the team was and still is loaded with talent. They just couldn't keep their heads in the game. Turnovers aside, I recall at least one (there were more but I can't remember them as clearly) where we had a team stopped on third and long only to give up a first down on a stupid penalty. If my memory serves me, we lost that game due in very large part to that penalty.
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Old 05-31-2007, 09:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward eager to expand playbook

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
2) good to see hines refering to himself in 3rd person, ala joe horn.
Damn local media is at it again. Misconstruing words in order to sell more papers!

Hines Ward knows Hines Ward did not say what Hines Ward said the paper said Hines Ward said.
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