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    Life after the SuperBowl...

    Man, I don't even want to think of 7 long dreadful months til football again....

    Anyways......


    Steelers must begin to prepare for life without Hines Ward


    TAMPA -- As the Pittsburgh Steelers plan for the possibility that receiver Hines Ward won't be able to play effectively in Super Bowl 43 due to a knee injury -- or, perhaps, won't be able to play at all -- the franchise needs to start thinking about the inevitable day on which Ward won't be available at all, healthy or otherwise.
    It's easy to take a tough, gritty player with a perpetual smile on his face for granted. But Ward is 32. And he's had some knee issues in the past. And he's nearing the point where the wear and tear of 11 football seasons and counting could begin to break down a human body.
    Are the Steelers ready for it?
    For now, the answer is, "Maybe not."
    Ideally, the heir apparent would be Santonio Holmes, a first-round pick in the first draft after Ward won the MVP award in Super Bowl XL.
    Based on the popular belief that a high-end receiver breaks out by his third season at the latest, Holmes might never break out.
    A year ago, in his second NFL season, Holmes looked to be on track, with 52 catches for 942 yards and eight scores in only 13 games. In 15 games this past regular season, however, Holmes caught just 55 passes for 821 yards and five touchdowns.
    It was a major disappointment for Holmes, especially in light of the expectations he placed on himself.
    "I don't like to jinx myself, and I don't want to sound too over the edge," Holmes told ESPN.com in September. "But everything that I've gotten my hands on, if I have a pen around, I've written '1,200-plus yards' on it.
    "That's just something that I'm setting myself up for, because I've never had a 1,000-yard season before."
    And still hasn't.
    But there's reason for hope. A 67-yard punt return for a touchdown helped fuel the Steelers' division-round win over the Chargers, and a 65-yard score against the Ravens helped deliver the team's second AFC title in four seasons.
    If Holmes can follow that up with a strong performance in the Super Bowl, the jolt to his confidence could help him prepare to become the No. 1 wideout once Ward calls it quits.
    Beyond Holmes, the options are limited. Nate Washington has shown potential as a deep threat, but he's not ready to become that reliable third-and-long target Ward so often provides.
    Then there's Limas Sweed, the lanky wideout that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger openly coveted a year ago.
    The Steelers grabbed Sweed in the second round of the 2008 draft. But in 11 appearances as a rookie, Sweed caught only six passes. For 64 yards. And no touchdowns.

    It was a pass Sweed didn't catch against the Ravens that created real concern regarding whether he'll succeed at the NFL level. Late in the first half, Sweed dropped what looked to be a sure 50-yard touchdown pass that hit him right in his hands.
    The good news is that Sweed rebounded to make a key third-down reception in the second half. And his blind-side block of Ravens defensive back Corey Ivy represents the kind of wallop that Ward has applied to many a defender.
    Regardless of whether it's Holmes or Washington or Sweed, one of these three players will need to be ready to become the go-to guy in Pittsburgh when Ward walks away.
    If the Steelers win on Sunday, that day could be coming sooner than anyone realizes.
    So the Steelers might have to explore other options, and soon, for replacing Ward's numbers, his toughness and his leadership.
    Few free-agent classes or draft pools contain guys like Hines Ward. The reality the Steelers might have to face, then, is that they won't be able to replace him. Thus, they should hope that his body will let him continue to play for many years to come.
    Just the thought of Not Hearing Wards name every Sunday......I don't even want to thing about it.

    Maybe it wouldn't be so hard if we actually had someone in the mak'n to just step up once that dreadful day ever comes.
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
    -unknown

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Hines Ward will play in the super bowl and be a factor for us.

    Hines Ward will be back next year and will continue to play at a high level.

    Hines Ward will be a Steeler for atleast 3 more years.

    Holmes will be fine and he'll continue to develop. As for Nate we'll have to see if he sticks around after this season and how well Sweed picks up his game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOP GUN View Post
    Hines Ward will play in the super bowl and be a factor for us.

    Hines Ward will be back next year and will continue to play at a high level.

    Hines Ward will be a Steeler for atleast 3 more years.

    Holmes will be fine and he'll continue to develop. As for Nate we'll have to see if he sticks around after this season and how well Sweed picks up his game.
    Ya but ya never know.....
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
    -unknown

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    STEELER NATION RULES
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    It is time to start planning for it, but not a rush yet. i'm with TG on the timetable but I would like him to have time with whomever that is going to be....

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Sweed was drafted to be the next great WR on this team. They know Hines won't last forever but let's not get crazy here thinking Ward is going to retire after this season or something. He's given no indication that he wants to stop playing, he's been in the league 10 years so it's not like he's ancient or something. He'll be back and he'll be fine. It's up to Holmes, Sweed, and if Nate sticks around to keep improving.

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    Keeper of Keys Dean Denton's Avatar
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    It will be a sad day when Ward is no longer with us. I'm sure he will be around 3 or 4 more seasons, and 2 of those should be solid. but you can never tell. Hell, when Ward retires we might not even have Holmes, Sweed or Washington. We might have Crabtree, and Boldin. You never know. Just a thought....How sad would you be to see Ward playing for another team?

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    I honestly dont think that being a little older would effect Ward as much as it would a reciever who is more of a deep threat just because of the way he plays the game. Hines isn't the guy that is going to be a threat to blow by defensive backs and beat them deep. As long as he can maintain his ability to run effective routes and make tough catches, then I think it will be a matter of his desire to keep going, rather than his physical ability to. Thats just my two cents.

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    Keeper of Keys Dean Denton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelerSteve View Post
    I honestly dont think that being a little older would effect Ward as much as it would a reciever who is more of a deep threat just because of the way he plays the game. Hines isn't the guy that is going to be a threat to blow by defensive backs and beat them deep. As long as he can maintain his ability to run effective routes and make tough catches, then I think it will be a matter of his desire to keep going, rather than his physical ability to. Thats just my two cents.
    I agree... Ward has never been a speedster, and as long as his routes are good we could have him another 5 or 6 season, and he will be good too. And within that time we can draft a couple more like him and he can groom them into Spartans...good call SteelerSteve...that is if some WR come out of college with balls, and dont act like frigging Divas.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Denton View Post
    I agree... Ward has never been a speedster, and as long as his routes are good we could have him another 5 or 6 season, and he will be good too. And within that time we can draft a couple more like him and he can groom them into Spartans...good call SteelerSteve...that is if some WR come out of college with balls, and dont act like frigging Divas.....
    lol I dont know if theres such thing as a non-diva reciever. Ward is the toughest reciever in the NFL and even he gets manicures lol. But I guess if it helps him play better than I won't complain too much.

  10. #10
    2nd String DBR96A's Avatar
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    Maybe we could keep Hines Ward around as a WR coach?
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v437/DBR96/Sports%20gallery/Pittsburgh%20sports/Pittsburgh%20Steelers%20-%206X%20Super%20Bowl%20champions/PGH256A.jpg
    Six Lombardi Trophies: Not coming soon to a city near you.

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