Thursday, October 05, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The hamstring injury that kept Hines Ward out of every preseason game has improved, it just won't heal altogether, and the wide receiver predicted it will bother him the rest of the season.
"My hamstring's not going to be 100 percent this year," he declared yesterday.
Ward is off to the slowest statistical start in his career, not counting his rookie season when he did not start a game. He has caught nine passes for 99 yards. That also ties his lowest three-game stretch since he caught four passes for 67 yards in 2000; he caught nine for 99 yards over a three-game stretch in the middle of 2004.
Ward refused to blame his hamstring injury on his slow start and said that while it won't return to full health this season, it's close.
"It's a matter of battling, fighting through it," Ward said. "It feels good. A hamstring, it's kind of hard to get back to 100 percent when you're running all the time. I'm getting treatment every day to take care of it and try to be as close to 100 percent as possible."
Ward also had a hamstring injury last season, causing him to miss his only game since he arrived in the NFL in 1998.
"I don't know what's wrong with this one; it's not pulled, it's not strained, it's just aggravating. I still have some scar tissue in there. I'm feeling fine. I don't feel hindered by the hamstring, just every now and then on certain routes that I run, I may feel it."
Ward's longest reception covered 19 yards. He came close to catching one for 48 yards in Jacksonville at the goal line that was just out of his reach.
"I felt it on the initial takeoff," Ward said of that pass from Ben Roethlisberger. "But, once I got behind the guy, we were just off by a foot."
Ward said that, typical of hamstring injuries, it would heal "if you take six months off and not do anything, no running."
"But every day at practice, I'm running. My hamstring's fine, it's not 100 percent. I'm out here practicing every day and running my routes full speed, so I don't see my hamstring being a problem."