Tag:Hines Ward
Posted on: January 9, 2012 8:30 pm
 

Hines Ward says he will NOT retire

Ward

By Josh Katzowitz

The fall for Hines Ward this season was precipitous. After all, the four-time Pro Bowler lost his starting job to Antonio Brown in November, and his 46-catch, 381-yard, two-touchdown performance this season was the worst stat line since his rookie season.

But, contrary to what some speculated (his teammates, for instance), the Steelers receiver is not going to step away from the game, announcing on his Facebook page that he’ll return next season.

As CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman reported Monday morning, Steelers teammates believed Ward might retire. But, Freeman wrote, “that doesn't mean it's set he will. That means some Steelers players believe it which means it's likely to happen. Ward is a different sort of dude. He could decide to hang on for one more year.”

That, Ward wrote, is exactly what he’s going to do:

“I'm also getting lots of questions about retirement so let me set the record straight: I have no plans on retiring right now. I want to win another Superbowl (sic). I don't know where the media is getting this info from but rest assured that when I decide to retire, you'll hear it from ME first.”

Ward, though, probably will have to be content by playing as a backup slot receiver for a Steelers receiving corps that is young and speedy. If, that is, he can make the team at all next year. Which might be a question heading into the 2012 season.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 11:16 am
 

Steelers RB coach's burns not life threatening

Kirby Wilson was burned in a house fire Friday (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Early Friday morning, Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson was burned badly in a house fire, and he had to be airlifted from his home in Seven Fields to Pittsburgh.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Wilson was burned over 30 to 50 percent of his body, and though his injuries are considered serious, they’re not life-threatening.

"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with Kirby and his entire family,” Steelers president Art Rooney said in a statement released Friday. "We are saddened to hear about his unfortunate situation but we know that he has the best medical care in the country treating him. The entire organization is praying for Kirby to have a full recovery and we will be by his side through this difficult time."

The team was told about the fire at Wilson’s townhouse at a meeting Friday morning. The blaze began about 3 a.m. Friday morning. Nobody else was in Wilson’s house.

"He's such a hard-working coach," said Isaac Redman, who’s taken over the No. 1 running back spot since Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL. "He was always the first guy in the building. He was always here. He takes pride in the running backs.

"He's taken me really from a practice squad running back to a running back that's capable of playing in this league. He had a lot to do with my development of being able to recognize defenses and being a complete professional in how I go about my life every day. It's just really sad to see this happen to him."

That was a sentiment echoed throughout the locker room Friday. Normally, Wilson is on the Steelers sidelines for games. It’s assumed offensive assistant Harold Goodwin will take his place for Sunday’s playoff game vs. the Broncos.

"You start to think more about his family more than anything. I think football is second," Hines Ward said. "All the guys' thoughts and prayers are with Kirby and his family. Everyone on this team is thinking more of his family, his health and well being.

"It's just crazy. Just yesterday we were laughing, and next thing you know, he's in the hospital.”

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:27 pm
 

VIDEO: Hines Ward in 'Dark Knight Rises' trailer

And people say Hines Ward has lost a step. (YouTube.com)
By Will Brinson

"Dark Knight Rises," the latest in the line of Batman movies from Christopher Nolan, is slated to hit theaters in July of 2012. But the full trailer hit the Internets over the weekend and guess who makes a cameo: Hines Ward!

We already knew that a slew of Steelers players were playing roles in the movie as members of the Gotham Rogues, whose home field is set at Heinz Field, but not until my younger brother chatted me on Sunday did I realize that Ward was actually in the preview.

You can check out Ward's appearance at the 1:15 mark below as he runs from not just defenders, but a slew of explosions set by Bane, the movie's villain, who's basically like an evil version of Rob Gronkowski, who is also hell-bent on blowing up Heinz Field (only metaphorically) and quite clearly a efficient killing machine created by scientists.

The trailer is absolutely badass, but, just as an FYI, it's R-rated and slightly scarier than James Harrison.


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Posted on: November 25, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Ward unlikely to regain starting job anytime soon

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? NFL.com'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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Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:01 pm
 

Tomlin said to be furious about NFL fine on Clark

Clark's collision with Dickson resulted in a $40,000 fine. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Tuesday there were reports that Ryan Clark and Ray Lewis could expect fines for their play in Sunday night's Ravens-Steelers game. Wednesday it became a reality; Clark was docked $40,000 and Lewis $20,000.

And not long after the fines were announced, Clark spoke frankly on the matter.

"Somebody else needs to step in ... not that I respected Roger [Goodell] before this ... but this is ridiculous," he said. "I'm not going to sit across from [the Commissioner] unless they handcuff me. which is probably the next step anyway."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette writes that Steelers head coach "was said to be furious when he learned about the fine from the league office today."

In a statement released by the team, Tomlin called the fine excessive.

"I am a proponent of player safety and the league's pursuit of improvement in this area," he said. "I, like the vast majority of people in this industry, witness daily the steep price that these young men pay to play this game on so many levels. Ryan has my full support if he chooses to appeal this in any way."

Judge for yourself:


Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also supports Clark and thinks that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith should get involved.

"It's unfortunate," he said."You never want to see one of your guys get hit, especially for that much money. I went back and watched it. If you slow down and watch it, it's about as picture-perfect of a tackle you can make. His head was down right across the chest and the back of his helmet maybe grazed the wide receivers bottom of the face mask. Someone needs to stand up and do something -- like De Smith. He is our player guy, stand up and do something for our players."

Reviewing Week 9

Fair point. Smith hasn't been seen since the lockout ended. Maybe that's why, when the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly asked James Harrison Wednesday if De Smith should get involved his response was "Who's that?"

(We're pretty sure that was Harrison being sarcastic.)

But it's not just those in the Steelers organization that think Clark's punishment was exorbitant. Sports Illustrated's Peter King sent the following tweets Wednesday:

"Watched replay of Clark's hit on Dickson 20/25 times. Clark lowers head, aims for chest w/right shoulder. Clips Dickson facemask w/helmet. … This is not the kind of hit to generate a 40k fine. Clark DID hit helmet--but he clearly was aiming lower. Some fine? OK. 40? No way. … 'Fine Clark till he stops.; Stops what? Lowering his head and aiming for a guy's sternum? Bury a guy when he AIMS for head. Clark didn't."

As our colleague Will Brinson wrote earlier, the reason Clark is now out $40,000 wasn't the result of some blindfolded dart-throwing exercise down at league headquarters. It's because the NFL's fine schedule plainly states that the second offense for "Impermissible Use of the Helmet" will run you … $40,000.

The players are well aware of this. They're just apoplectic at the amount. Well, that and the arbitrary nature with with Goodell metes out punishments. Like, say, this.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Film Room: Bengals vs. Steelers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



So let’s get this straight: the Steelers, at a respectable 6-3, are in third place of the AFC North? And it’s not the soft-scheduled Browns they’re chasing, but rather, the dysfunctional Bengals?

We’re going to find out over the next two months whether the Bengals are a Cinderella story or a farce. First, let’s establish some expectations by examining what the film has revealed over the past two months.



1. The ginger rookie & Jon Gruden’s brother
There’s a growing movement to anoint Andy Dalton the Offensive Rookie of the Year instead of Cam Newton. That’s a fair. Dalton’s team is 6-2, Newton’s is 2-6. But let’s keep our perspective and remember that Dalton is NOT the physical specimen that Newton is. He doesn’t have Newton’s arm, wheels or athletic improv skills. And he’s not being asked to do the same things as Newton.

That said, Dalton has been much closer to Newton’s athletic level than anyone would have ever guessed. He has shown the arm strength to make just about every throw that first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has asked of him. He’s been poised when operating from a muddied pocket, and he’s very good at releasing the ball on the move.

Gruden has done a phenomenal job playing to Dalton’s strengths. The Bengals have a balanced attack that hinges on play-action and rollouts, two concepts that slice the field for a quarterback and help define his reads (see graphic). Gruden also incorporates a lot of three-and five-step drops – another simplification tactic. As a result, the Bengals offense has not only been nearly mistake-free but also calm and consistent.

A play-action rollout simplifies things for a quarterback by essentially slicing the field in half. In this sample (against a basic two-man coverage), a fake handoff compels the defense to flow left. The only defenders who go right are the ones responsible for the two receivers running their patterns to the right.

Quarterbacking 101 teaches you to never throw across your body or back across the field. Thus, after the quarterback rolls out, he only has to read the right side of the field, which consists of nothing but his two receivers and their defensive matchups. Often, the read is simplified even more by throwing to wherever the free safety is not giving help-coverage. If a play is there, it’s easy for the quarterback to see.

If nothing’s there, the quarterback has plenty of room to throw the ball away or scramble.

2. The “sure thing” receiver & other weapons
Wideout A.J. Green has been exactly what you’d expect a No. 4 overall pick to be in Year One. He’s averaging roughly five catches, 75 yards and a little more than half a touchdown per game. He’s clearly Dalton’s go-to guy, being targeted almost automatically when facing one-on-one coverage. Green has a wide catching radius thanks to uncommon body control and a great vertical leap. He’ll climb to the top echelon of receivers once he polishes his route running (he has a bad tendency to yield ground and inside positioning on downfield patterns).

The receiving weapons around Green have been solid. Jermaine Gresham can cause matchup problems in the flats. Veteran Donald Lee has filled in well in the wake of Gresham’s hamstring injury the past two weeks. Jerome Simpson has shown why the team did not discipline him harshly after police found Costco amounts of marijuana in his home this past September. To be blunt, Simpson’s quickness is too valuable to take off the field. He’s much more reliable than Andre Caldwell.

Surprisingly, the black-and-blue ground game that figured to define Cincy’s offense has been extremely average thus far (the statistics support this, as Cincy ranks 28th with 3.7 yards per carry). Cedric Benson is a methodical, patient runner who needs steady blocking in order to thrive. He has gotten that, but not at the level he did two years ago when he averaged nearly 100 yards per game.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, despite a poor outing last week, has played at a Pro Bowl level, and right tackle Andre Smith has flashed astonishing power a few times. But the interior line and ancillary blockers (such as a sixth offensive lineman/fullback/tight end) have been up-and-down.

3. Defensive Overview
The Bengals have a deep, active defensive line that’s extremely potent against the run but just so-so against the pass. Tackles Geno Atkins and Pat Sims both regularly win phone booth matchups in impressive fashion, and Domata Peko almost always punishes teams who try to block him one-on-one. If he’s not penetrating, he’s stalemating in a way that allows teammates to make plays.
 
None of these inside players are dominant pass-rushers, though. And there isn’t much firepower outside. End Michael Johnson uses his athleticism in myriad ways but is not a regular presence in the backfield. Intriguing second-year pro Carlos Dunlap replaces Robert Geathers on passing downs. Dunlap, with his unusual upright style and sinewy explosiveness, is certainly capable of reaching the quarterback, but he’s also capable of disappearing for long stretches.

An impotent pass-rush can put considerable pressure on a secondary. Leon Hall is an elite cover corner who does not command a lot of safety help over the top. Using him in isolated solo coverage is a double-edge sword that has stabbed opponents slightly more than it’s stabbed the Bengals this season. Safeties Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker are hit-or-miss in coverage but capable of playing in space or the box. They give Mike Zimmer options.

Veteran Nate Clements has done a commendable job replacing Johnathan Joseph. Clements has been especially aggressive in short, underneath coverage. Helping in this facet is the fact that linebackers Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson both move well in the flats. It’s a little surprising that Lawson, who is replaced by Brandon Johnson in nickel (Johnson is the more comfortable of the two between the tackles), hasn’t been asked to put his hand in the dirt on passing downs.

4. Something to consider
This is a sharp, fundamentally sound defense that plays well as a unit in Mike Zimmer’s fairly aggressive scheme. But it’s also a defense that has yet to be tested. Look at the Bengals’ schedule thus far. They opened against Cleveland and Denver, two teams with major problems at wide receiver.

They faced San Francisco in Week 3, a good team but a very, very basic offense. They beat Buffalo in Week 4. Buffalo has a much-improved offense, but they’re not exactly Green Bay. Or even Dallas (never mind what the stats might say). After that it was Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Seattle, three teams with a total of zero proven quarterbacks. Last week the Bengals handled a Tennessee offense that’s respectable but nothing close to dynamic (especially through the air).

You couldn’t ask to face a more banal collection of offenses. This defense is fantastic against the run, but it remains to be seen how it will respond against a rhythmic, up-tempo passing attack.  

5. Matchup with the Steelers
Pittsburgh does have an elite, formidable offense. Cincinnati’s ho-hum pass-rush is not ideal for defending Ben Roethlisberger’s late-in-the-down magic.

The Bengals at least catch a break with wideout Emmanuel Sanders being out (arthroscopic knee surgery). Sanders would have given the Steelers aerial attack third source of speed, which Zimmer’s nickel unit may not be equipped to combat. Instead, it will be either Hines Ward or Jericho Cotchery threatening to catch six-yard slants out of the slot.

On the other side, the only defense comparable to Pittsburgh’s that this Cincy offense has faced is San Francisco’s in Week 3. The Niners were physical in taking away the receivers’ quick routes. The result was eight points and a 1/10 third down success rate for the Bengals. However, Dalton’s game has expanded since then. If need be, it’s possible, though not probable, that he’ll be able to put the team on his back and open things up for the first time this season.

Unless there continues to be slews of the fortuitous field position breaks that this Bengals offense has frequently enjoyed this season, he’ll need to.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 10 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:22 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Ryan Clark fined $40K, Ray Lewis fined $20K

Posted by Will Brinson



Everyone knows that Ravens-Steelers games are a different (read: more violent) brand of football and that was exactly the case on Sunday night, when Baltimore snuck out a win in Pittsburgh. Ray Lewis and Ryan Clark delivered the most notable hits of the evening -- Lewis knocked Hines Ward with a clear helmet-to-helmet hit but wasn't flagged, while Clark picked up a 15-yard penalty for a hit on Ed Dickson.

Tuesday, Ryan Wilson told you to expect fines for both guys, and on Wednesday, they came down from the league. Lewis was fined $20,000 for his hit on Ward and Clark was fined $40,000 by the NFL for his hit on Dickson. Clark is especially unhappy about it.

Reviewing Week 9

"The hit wasn't malicious at all," Clark said, per Will Graves of the Associated Press. "i know how to knock somebody out if i want to knock them out. Am I supposed to let him catch it and then wait for him and hug him? Should I throw a pillow at him? Should I blow a whistle?"

And the Steelers safety had some choice words for Commissioner Roger Goodell as well.

"Somebody else needs to step in ... not that I respected Roger before this ... but this is ridiculous," Clark said. "I'm not going to sit across from [the Commissioner] unless they handcuff me. which is probably the next step anyway."

Lewis wasn't happy either, but had less aggressive words for the league office.

"Yeah, I heard from the league and like I said they fined me whatever they was going to fine me," Lewis said, via Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times. "The thing is you definitely respect them trying to protect player safety. At the same time, it won't change not one way I play this week no matter what the fine is. You can't stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play. When the receiver has the ball, your job is to disengage him from the ball. You never want to hurt nobody.

"I've been in this business too long. I just think once you start getting into these fines I don't know how they come up with the numbers most of the time."

Well, actually, the NFL has a pretty standardized system for fines, though there is some confusion about the application. A fine for a hit on a defenseless player or impermissible use of a helmet (including illegal launching) is $20,000, which explains Lewis' fine.

And a repeat-offender fine is $40,000, which is why Clark, who's been targeted more than once by the NFL, got double what Lewis did, even though the safety claims the hit wasn't against league rules.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:35 pm
 

Sanders will miss a few weeks after surgery

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who missed last week’s Ravens game because of the death of his mother and because of a knee problem, won’t be suiting up for a few more weeks.

That’s because, as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports, Sanders underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee to repair the meniscus and, according to coach Mike Tomlin, he’ll miss the next few games.

Sanders is fifth on the team with 18 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

In other Steelers news, receiver Hines Ward, who suffered from concussion symptoms after a nasty Ray Lewis helmet-to-helmet hit, should be ready to play this week, while linebacker LaMarr Woodley and his bum hamstring still are questionable.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com