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BlitzburghRockCity
12-11-2006, 12:25 AM
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06345/745260-66.stm


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.

We're gonna need every available player that can walk to be out on the field for us these last 3 games. Getting Ward and Polamalu back will be a huge lift for us !

Koopa
12-11-2006, 02:41 AM
as much as i would love to have them back out there, i don't want them to rush anything......i hope if they play they are 100%, i know, no one in the nfl is really 100% but i them to be as close as possible before returning......plus i want holmes to keep starting lol.......also, if troy does return, i hope they still start anthony smith, i want to see them two work together

floodcitygirl
12-11-2006, 09:09 AM
We need them back...but as healthy as possible. I'd hate to see either one rush back on a "pride issue" and be knocked out for the last two games. I know I'm a bit biased but I REALLY want them for the New Year's game against the Bungles.

BlitzburghRockCity
12-11-2006, 09:15 AM
An 80% Ward is better than many WR's in the game, and we all know Troy will be out there as much as possible. I hope they are both healthy enough to go becuase if we want to spoil our afcn rival's playoffs seedings then we need everyone on their A game.

I would like to see Anthony Smith get some time with Troy and definately see Holmes keep on starting. Ryan Clark is solid safety for us so if Anthony keeps progressing we'll have some good depth there.

House of Steel
12-11-2006, 09:32 AM
We all know Troy and Hines will be hungry when they come back so that is a good thing to look forward too. We do need them badly for the Bengals Massacre at Heinz Field South.

floodcitygirl
12-11-2006, 10:00 AM
We all know Troy and Hines will be hungry when they come back so that is a good thing to look forward too. We do need them badly for the Bengals Massacre at Heinz Field South.The Steelers HAVE to pull out a win in that game! The alternative would mean that I'll need a place to live until next season because I'd have to get out of Dodge. :bengalssuck:

Steelx
12-11-2006, 10:37 AM
I am not sure if I want them back unless they are 100% why risk a next season injury because we dont want the Bengals to go to the playoffs. I know these guys get paid tons of money but why risk the future if its not necessary?

AZ_Steeler
12-11-2006, 11:17 AM
With Ward and Troy back that will be a huge lift for the Steelers especially with 3 tough games coming up!

K Train
12-11-2006, 04:30 PM
at this point....why rush it, we are playing well with reserves and are playing for self respect more than playoffs right now. Ward and polamalu...arguably 2 of our best players dont need to get hurt and be out longer or damage something permanetly, just saying glad they are better, but if not 100% dont be selfish and stupid by risking another injury. JMO

BlitzburghRockCity
12-11-2006, 09:58 PM
If this were the middle of the season and things were different I'd probably tend to agree with you but we only have 3 games left and our chances of the playoffs are a long shot so if they're ready to go and can be a help to us, might as well be on the field.

PITT23
12-11-2006, 10:07 PM
Saw him on the KDKA news today and he said he's been in rehab for the last two weeks and is working hard and itching to get back out there.

BlitzburghRockCity
12-11-2006, 10:12 PM
Hines and Troy are the ultimate competitors, if they can get out there in any way shape or form, they'll do it.

Koopa
12-11-2006, 10:25 PM
but no point in rushing the season is completely over, no point at all in messing yourself up worse, especially hines, he's already getting old, he needs to keep is body as healthy as possible if he wants to play out his contract lol

BlitzburghRockCity
12-11-2006, 10:30 PM
Worst case scenario is we don't start him, Hines that is, but let him play in situational parts of the game. Although knowing Ward his butt will be out there come hell or high water.

Steelersfan
12-11-2006, 11:56 PM
I'm not worried about either one of them at this point. Neither has been hurt much while playing with the Steelers and I don't think the Steelers would rush them back if they weren't ready. If they say they can play and help the team I'm all for it!

rainman
12-12-2006, 05:11 PM
I'd like to see both back even if for a few series because Hines and Troy play pure Steeler football (like Lynn and Jack did)