Steelers' Ward to sit out for second straight week
By Len Pasquarelli
Still slowed by a sprained knee, Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward will be sidelined for a second straight week on Sunday when the Steelers host the Seattle Seahawks.
The 10th-year veteran sustained the injury, originally diagnosed as a bruised knee, in the third quarter of a Sept. 23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. A subsequent MRI exam revealed no structural damage, but Ward has been unable to practice since the injury. He said early this week that he is making progress, but apparently not enough to allow him to return to the lineup.
Nate Washington, who had two receptions for 18 yards in last week loss at Arizona, will get a second straight start.
"As players, we hate to miss games," Ward said on Thursday. "These are games I can never get back. But, at the same time, you have to look at the big picture. We have a bye coming up and the stretch after that we have three division games and the Denver Broncos on the road. I have to be smart about it. That's the best thing for me to do for the team."
The other starting wide receiver remains second-year veteran Santonio Holmes, who scored two touchdowns last week and is emerging at the team's best deep threat.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Friday also ruled out nickel cornerback Bryant McFadden (ankle) for Sunday's game. Nose tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring) and strong safety Troy Polamalu (abdomen) are listed as questionable, but have not practiced all week and are not likely to play. Backup nose tackle Chris Hoke, who suffered a spinal cord concussion during last week's game, has been cleared to return and probably will take Hampton's place.
In his three appearances this season, Ward, 31, has nine catches for 108 yards and one touchdown.
A four-time Pro Bowl performer and the most valuable player in Pittsburgh's victory in Super Bowl XL two years ago, Ward is key to the Pittsburgh offense, not just as its most accomplished receiver, but also because he is one of the best downfield blocking wide receivers in the league.
In 144 games, Ward has 657 catches for 8,113 yards and 59 touchdowns. He is the leading pass-catcher in franchise history.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.