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Old 05-25-2005, 01:42 AM   #1
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Default Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

If anyone ever hit the nail on the head. Less is sometimes more!
----------

Steelers' wide receivers will display versatility, diversity

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



The Steelers' receivers, from left to right, Antwaan Randle El, Hines Ward and Cedrick Wilson, believe their versatility will create a better passing game than last year..

Life after Plaxico Burress might not be so bad, Hines Ward believes. It could be better, for Ward and for the Steelers' passing game as a whole.

The names of the receiving game now are versatility and diversity. It's no knock against the 6-foot-5 Burress, Ward emphasized, but he, Antwaan Randle El and newcomer Cedrick Wilson can do more with less height.

"I know Plax was an integral part as far as he gave you that height," Ward said, "but with Antwaan's versatility, my versatility and you add in Ced's versatility, we've been playing a lot of interchangeable positions, where Plax, he was our deep-threat guy."

The Steelers hope to use the speed and quickness of Randle El and Wilson to make up for the loss of Burress. All three are practicing the basic three wide receiver positions -- X (split end), Z (flanker) and F (slot). They also are disguising those positions more this spring to the point that the X can line up in the slot, yet remain, essentially, the split end. They did some of that with Burress last season, but not often.

"We tried to put him in the slot, but, when we did that teams knew we were trying to get him the ball in the slot, because he never played it," Ward said. "But Antwaan and myself, we can go X and the Z. So, I might get some deeper routes down the field."

Ward chafes at being labeled a possession receiver and noted that his 12.6 yards per catch last season compared favorably to many of the top receivers in the league. Marvin Harrison averaged 12.9 yards a catch, Eric Moulds 11.9, Chad Johnson 13.4 and Derrick Mason 12.2 -- all among the leading receivers in the AFC. Ward caught five passes for 109 yards (21.8 average) and a 30-yard touchdown in the AFC championship game and also had 105 yards against the New York Jets in the playoffs.

With Burress gone, the 6-foot Ward becomes the tallest receiver of the top three. Randle El and Wilson stand 5-10.

"Maybe I'll get some fades in the end zone or something," Ward said, laughing. "I think I've worked harder to this point because I have more to prove now. People say you can't do it without Plax. It has nothing to do with Plax. Plax is gone, let's move on."

Before Ward, 85 receptions in a season was the Steelers' record. He topped that three of the past four years. His total slipped to 80 last season mostly because the Steelers ran the ball 61 percent of the time, more often than any NFL team in the past 20 years. Nevertheless, he caught the highest percentage of passes for his team than any of the top receivers in the league.

"If I don't go out and catch 80, 90 balls, it's not because Plax isn't here," Ward said. "If I only get 80 opportunities and catch 70 of those 80, it doesn't mean I was affected by Plax. It's a total team effort, no one guy can control it. If that was the case, Minnesota wouldn't have let Randy Moss go. You want a makeup of great team and at the wideout position. We have that. Yes, we lost Plax, but we're starting to jell with one another and complement one another."

By having all three receivers play all three positions, coordinator Ken Whisenhunt hopes to confuse defenses more in 2005.

"We always had Plax in a certain spot," Whisenhunt said. "Everybody kind of knew he would be there. The advantage we have now with Cedrick, Randle El and Hines, these guys are all interchangeable. You can line them up anywhere. "Sometimes defenses would set their fronts, based on how the receivers lined up because they knew Plax was the X and Hines was the Z. Having three guys so versatile makes us a little bit harder to defend, I hope."
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Old 05-25-2005, 07:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

I agree with Hines! Let's just MOVE ON!!! I mean quite frankly, if you ask me, I don't think Plax gave it his all last year ESPECIALLY during the AFC Championship game. Come on, drop a ball in the end-zone???!?!?! Please! I hope Burress is happier somewhere else, just not in Pittsburgh.

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Old 05-25-2005, 07:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

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I don't think Plax gave it his all last year ESPECIALLY during the AFC Championship game.
I agree.. but I also don't think gave us his all 100% ever.. dropping easy passes was his middle name half the time. Sure he made some HUGE plays for us, and had some big games, there's no denying what his presence meant on the field to draw away double coverage..

BUT.. it's not like he's irreplaceable and we dont have talent to step up and take over for him.
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

I have to say it... I liked Plax and last year I was very concered with his future with us. What really made me worry, is how Ben's game fell apart a little without him. I was, for a while, praying we would franchise him. But then looking at it...I didn't want to lose Ward at the expense of Burress. HOWEVER, I am not so worried about the loss of Plax anymore. I really don't even see it as something we have to overcome. I believe the guys we have will get the job done, and I couldn't be more happy then I am with the group of guys we have right now!
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

I also briefly thought about franchising him.. but when you consider how much he gripes to media, and underachieves on the field, it just wasnt worth the money we'd have to give him just for 1 year, and why,so he could leave us in 2006 anyways? I think addition of cedric wilson's speed, and the return of Zamir Cobb, and also Gibson being drafted, we should be AOK this season. :)
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Old 05-25-2005, 11:46 AM   #6
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

We don't need no stinkin' deep threat!

Good riddance to Plax.He dropped easy balls,NEVER gave 100%,always fell down after the catch,griped about everything.Let the NY media eat him alive.

Give me the trio of Ward,Randle El,and Wilson any day over Plax.

Randle El showed he can get it done when Plax was out with his injury.Wilson has good hands & plays rather physically like Hines (from what I understand).These are the three that will take us to the Promised Land.
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Old 05-25-2005, 11:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

I like Plax too, but not at the expense of Hines of course. I only started liking Plax because of what Ben and him did together. They did have some nice plays last year. Cedrick Wilson/Hines Ward/Antwan Randle El what a combination though!!! I can't wait to see them play together.
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Old 05-25-2005, 03:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

Bltz is right, 100% almost never out of Plax. Maybe Hines is right with his talk of versatility. Add in Freddie Gibson at six five, and lets roll.
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Old 05-27-2005, 06:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlitzburghRockCity
I agree.. but I also don't think gave us his all 100% ever.. dropping easy passes was his middle name half the time. Sure he made some HUGE plays for us, and had some big games, there's no denying what his presence meant on the field to draw away double coverage..

BUT.. it's not like he's irreplaceable and we dont have talent to step up and take over for him.
Exactly, I couldn't have said it any better myself! I agree with you 200%! Good post BlitzBurgh!

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Old 05-27-2005, 08:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: Hines: Life is better w/ out Plax..

I will agree that Plax dropped a lot of (what seemed to me) easy receptions. However, when he had one of his good games...it seemed like the entire offense clicked. However, I see consistancy next year with our recievers, and I don't think Plax will be as missed as I first thought he would be.
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