Blog Entry

Ward unlikely to regain starting job anytime soon

Posted on: November 25, 2011 1:06 pm
Ward puts the team first before individual accomplishments. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

For the first time since Week 1 of the 2000 season, a span of 184 games, a healthy Hines Ward wasn't in the Steelers' starting lineup when Pittsburgh faced Cincinnati on November 13. Instead, second-year wideout Antonio Brown replaced Ward and that doesn't look to change anytime soon.

Through 10 games, Mike Wallace leads the team with 53 catches and 922 receiving yards. Brown is second (44 catches, 626 yards), followed by tight end Heath Miller (38, 465) and then Ward (27, 268).

But Ward, one of the most popular and productive players in Steelers history, is just 19 catches short of 1,000 for his career, which has been accomplished just seven times previously. With six games left on the schedule, it's reasonable to think he could reach the milestone by January, but as his role diminishes so too will the opportunities.

Days after Brown replaced him against the Bengals, Ward was accepting of his new role.

"It's not about me, it's about the team," he said on November 16, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "The bottom line is, we won the (Cincinnati) game. …

"It's a different role. I am still going to be the biggest cheerleader because I want to win. Whatever I can do to help this team win ball games, giving advice or when my number is called (by) making a play. Just continue doing that and have a positive attitude."

The Pittsburgh Steelers will prepare to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium. Who will come out with the victory?'s Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz take a look at this matchup.

But it wasn't just the case of Brown starting over Ward. Jerricho Cotchery, signed to a one-year deal during free agency, got Ward's snaps as the slot receiver, and he even scored a touchdown against the Bengals. But Cotchery called Ward "my biggest supporter."

Wallace, who Ward has taken under his wing, added: "As soon as I'd get to the sidelines, he'd be like, 'You should have done this, you should have done that. I saw this, I saw that,'. He sees everything and knows everything that's going on. He's like an extra coach out there. "When you have a guy that's been here and the situation he's in and he's still positive about it, how can I come to the sidelines and be down or mad or have anything bad to say?"

Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked Tuesday about Ward's place on the depth chart.

"That is to be determined," he said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. … "Obviously, Hines is a very capable man, as are some others. We will do what is best in terms of giving us an opportunity to win this game."

Ward's touches could be even tougher to come by going forward. One of Pittsburgh's other young wideouts, Emmanuel Sanders, is expected to return to the lineup either this Sunday or next after missing time with a knee injury.

For now, though, Ward seems to have come to terms with his fate. And it hasn't gone unnoticed.

“On this team, there are a lot of great players who have an opportunity to put up big numbers and stats,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, via the Beaver County Times. “As Coach (Arians) touched on, for us to be a true Super Bowl contender, people have to put their own personal goals and Pro Bowl things and things like that on the back shelf for the betterment of the team. I think Hines has done that.”

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Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:25 pm

Ward unlikely to regain starting job anytime soon

I knew this day would come, but I thought it would be next year. I still want to see him hit the 1000 receptions and 12,000 yards. Ward is # 19 all time in receiving yards and could easily hit #16 he would need 318 yards to move up past Jimmy Smith. Not bad for a short, slow WR who plays on a run dominated offense. He is in a tie for 13th in career TDs and 3 more would put him at 88 tied with Don Maynard for 11th. He needs 6 to tie Isaac Bruce for 10th all time and that is probably a stretch, but 3 is not. He is in 8th place in receptions and getting the 19 to hit 1000 will not move him up. He needs 44 receptions to pass Isaac Bruce and that would be tough if he plays next year and is not the third receiver. He will be in the top 20 in all three catagories regardless of his future status and has been instrumental in the Steelers run game for over a decade. He has taken quite a few hits and delivered more hits than any other wideout and he usually got up smiling and that is why he is so beloved in Pittsburgh. Sure we'll take his stats, but it was his physical play that endeared him to so many of us. Good luck Hines Ward, make everything you can out of what playing time you get. HOF!

Since: Nov 26, 2011
Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:32 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: May 7, 2011
Posted on: November 26, 2011 6:49 am

Ward unlikely to regain starting job anytime soon

This could be the beginning to the end for one of the all time great receiver in Steeler history. I have Ward up there with Swann and Stallworth. I also would like to give Ward "big props" for accepting his new found role in the Steelers' WR rotation by mentoring the new and up and coming wideouts that are currently on the roster. Many veterans wouldn't accept being replaced,but everyone isn't like Ward. A perfect example is the "Farve/Rodgers" scenario in Green Bay.CoolSmileCool

Since: Aug 23, 2011
Posted on: November 25, 2011 1:16 pm

Ward unlikely to regain starting job anytime soon

Great player, will go to the HOF, not first ballot but will make it eventually. Always been a team player. Good for him, accept when your time is ending and gracefully accept another role on the team.

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