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Old 10-23-2008, 01:08 AM   #1
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Default Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact


By JOE LAPOINTE
Published: October 22, 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — In discussing Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward on Wednesday, Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were not asked about Ward’s considerable skill at catching passes. Instead, they responded to queries about his blocking.
Phil Coale/Associated Press


Steelers receiver Hines Ward was called “an extra lineman” by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“Like a boxer, he delivers a great blow with a short punch,” Tomlin said on a conference call.

Roethlisberger called Ward “an extra lineman” on running plays. “He is not afraid, like a whole lot of wide receivers are,” Roethlisberger said. “He is going to put a helmet on you. Guys are always wondering where he is.”

Ward is expected to be one of several key performers in Sunday’s game against the Giants at Heinz Field, a matchup between division leaders with 5-1 records. He is an 11-year veteran who leads his team in receptions with 28 and in receiving yards with 376.

But Ward’s willingness and ability to block distinguish him in a position sometimes manned by self-involved stars who care primarily about catching the ball, running with it and celebrating themselves in the end zone. He drawsattention for plays in which he does not have the ball in his hands.

Last Sunday, in a 38-10 victory at Cincinnati, the 6-foot, 205-pound Ward broke the jaw of Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers with a block after a Matt Spaeth catch. Ward was not called for a penalty on the play.

Rivers might be out for the season. That and other hits have been studied seriously this week by the Giants. “Oh, man, everybody’s aware,” linebacker Danny Clark said. He added that he thought Ward’s hits were clean “for the most part.”

But he also said Ward’s opponents were often penalized for retaliating on him for things the officials do not see. “We’ve got to attack him, before he gets us,” Clark said. “His heart is big. That’s something you can’t buy on the street. He’s got the heart of a lion.”

Not everyone is so generous in their praise. Chinedum Ndukwe, a Cincinnati safety, told reporters after last Sunday’s game that Ward was “a blind-side guy” who did not always hit opponents face to face.

After the same game, Ward said: “I’m not doing anything illegal. I’m not going to change my ways. If they’re going to keep fining me for that, then I’m going to get fined all year.”

A Steelers spokesman said Wednesday that Ward was not fined for last Sunday’s hit. But the N.F.L. confirmed that Ward was fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness against Baltimore on Sept. 29 and $10,000 for the same reason against Jacksonville on Oct. 5.

Ward was not made available for a telephone interview on Wednesday. But he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier his month about a penalty called against defensive end Paul Spicer of Jacksonville.

“I cracked down on the linebacker, put him down, and the next thing you know, Spicer’s responding, and they got a flagrant foul,” Ward told The Post-Gazette. “And later in the next drive, they got another flagrant foul. I didn’t say anything. I got up smiling.”

Among the Giants’ receivers who block well are Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon and David Tyree. Smith said the best two blockers among receivers in the league were Ward and “the other Steve Smith,” who plays for Carolina.

“I try to emulate him,” the Giants’ Smith said of Ward. He added that he felt bad last Sunday when he missed a block for Hixon during a 29-17 victory over San Francisco. “My mind wasn’t right. Next time, I made sure.”

Hixon said receivers had specific blocking assignments on running plays, but “on a pass, once a ball is caught, that’s when you do a little more freelance.” Hixon said blocking a cornerback on a running play could turn a 10-yard gain into a touchdown.

Tyree, practicing again after a knee operation, described himself as a big fan of Ward’s and said receivers blocked from the side because they had to hit foes outweighing them by 35 or 40 pounds. “Any time you get a chance to take a shot, you’re going to,” Tyree said.

Kevin Dockery, a Giants cornerback, said he admired how Ward caught passes over the middle. “Most receivers won’t do that,” he said. But Dockery added that Ward has “a dangerous crackback block — you definitely can’t be on the receiving end of one of those cheap shots.”

Bryan Kehl, a rookie linebacker for the Giants, said, “Keep your head on a swivel.”

EXTRA POINTS

David Diehl, the left offensive tackle, missed practice with a sore back. ... Wide receiver Plaxico Burress missed practice with a shoulder injury and a stiff neck, Coach Tom Coughlin said. ... Antonio Pierce, the middle linebacker who missed the game with San Francisco, returned to practice. He has a quadriceps injury. ... Linebacker Gerris Wilkinson remains out with a knee injury.
More Articles in Sports » A version of this article appeared in print on October 23, 2008, on page B19 of the New York edition.
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

I thought that was a nice article from the NY media.

Quote:
“We’ve got to attack him, before he gets us,” Clark said. “His heart is big. That’s something you can’t buy on the street. He’s got the heart of a lion.”
Quote:
“I try to emulate him,” the Giants’ Smith said of Ward.
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

Interesting.

Look at what the Giants say... then at what the Bengals and Browns say about Ward...

then look at who has won a SB in the last few years, and who has not...


coincidence?
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

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Interesting.

Look at what the Giants say... then at what the Bengals and Browns say about Ward...

then look at who has won a SB in the last few years, and who has not...


coincidence?
That's because the Giants aren't run by cloudhead owners and coaches. Only losers complain about a wide reciever who blocks.
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Old 10-23-2008, 03:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

It gos to show you that everyone trys to account for Hines where he is at on the field when a team trys to study and see what you are doing cause you hit hard then they must be really concerned about getting nailed by Ward.
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

"Rivers might be out for the season. That and other hits have been studied seriously this week by the Giants. “Oh, man, everybody’s aware,” linebacker Danny Clark said. He added that he thought Ward’s hits were clean “for the most part"

This could benefit us. If the D knows that Hines is looking to make some big blocks, they just might keep one eye on Hines allowing the ball carrier to slip by them. Hopefully my gut feeling is true.
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

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Originally Posted by SCSTILLER View Post
This could benefit us. If the D knows that Hines is looking to make some big blocks, they just might keep one eye on Hines allowing the ball carrier to slip by them. Hopefully my gut feeling is true.
Despite the threat of Hines, I am thinking that most of those LBs are more concerned with that 264lb truck known from the "Jacobs" company of trucking that will be coming at them.
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:25 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

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Despite the threat of Hines, I am thinking that most of those LBs are more concerned with that 264lb truck known from the "Jacobs" company of trucking that will be coming at them.
I didn't realize that Brandon Jacobs was going to be playing for the Steelers on Sunday!
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

Ooops, good catch. That just looks absolutely stupid. It's what I get for working/typing at the same time.
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Old 10-23-2008, 03:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ward Has Eye on Ball and a Nose for Contact

I hope he has his eyes on a few Giants defensive players come Sunday afternoon, then his shoulder pads!!!
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