View Full Version : Ward cleared to participate

08-08-2011, 11:13 AM
Per my Steelers text this AM. The real quote is "passed his physical."

08-09-2011, 12:57 AM
On the Steelers: Receivers widen horizons
No Cotchery deal; Ward returns to practice
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery left the Steelers without a contract, leaving them right back to where they started at the position, having taken two swings and apparent misses to adding a veteran from outside to their group.

And that concerns some, including the only true veteran who practiced Monday for the first time since February.

"Looking at our wide receiving corps -- great talent, we have no experience," said Hines Ward, who officially joined his 14th training camp after coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list prompted by June thumb surgery.

It is, as Ward knows, a game of adjustments, so while the Steelers missed out on Plaxico Burress and, likely Cotchery, they have been preparing internally to solve their problems just in case. And those turn on two players: tight end Heath Miller and receiver Tyler Grisham.

Miller has set up in the backfield as a receiver more than ever, continuing an experiment that began last season. Grisham has been a favorite target of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in camp, continuing another trend from a year ago, and likely will take departed Antwaan Randle El's spot among the group of wide receivers.

Moving Miller to the backfield gives the offense more versatility and also creates more confusion for a defense.

"It's something new and exciting," said Miller, who enters his sixth season. "I'm always up for trying something different. I got exposed to it last year. I'm up for the challenge.

"It's probably more for passing situations than running situations. I think it helps with protections -- maybe when you get two backs in the backfield, it's harder for the defense to pick up on whether you're blocking [for the run], protecting [for the pass] or releasing."

Miller's teammates believe he is the most complete tight end in the league and, at 6 feet 5, can be more productive as a receiver if need be. He made the Pro Bowl after he had personal highs of 76 receptions and 789 yards in 2009. That fell off to 42 catches for 512 yards last season when the Steelers cut back on the passing game.

The new move is an indication they want to take more advantage of his catching ability.

"It's really just taking a halfback out and getting an extra receiver in," Roethlisberger said. "So I think we evolved a little bit. We did it a little bit of it last year but you're going to see a lot more of it. We have different packages. We have to get him in there, we have to use him.

"He's the best full tight end in the game. Nothing against Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates and those guys, but they're receivers playing tight end. Heath is the best because he can also block. He blocks defensive ends sometimes; we ask him to do that, and pick up blitzes. That's why he's so special, he can do whatever we want. He's an extra lineman and a receiver. I see a big year ahead for him."

Roethlisberger also loves Grisham, and that is apparent on the field. He stands just 5-11, weighs 180, has curly dirty blond hair and, while comparisons to Wes Welker are way premature, he's 2 inches taller than the Patriots receiver. Like Welker of Texas Tech, Grisham was undrafted when he finished at Clemson.

Grisham made the practice squad as a rookie in '09, then played in the final four games, catching one pass. He spent all last season on the practice squad after they signed Randle El. Randle El is gone and Grisham is ready to become more of a factor.

"Tyler Grisham [has] been around for a couple years, he's just waiting to take advantage of an opportunity," Miller said.

This is it.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11221/11 ... z1UVLA3VEM (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11221/1166092-66-0.stm#ixzz1UVLA3VEM)

08-09-2011, 12:58 AM
Steelers Notebook: Ward dancing on routes again
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Receiver Hines Ward pulled on a new pair of shoes Monday and practiced football for the first time since February.

"It's time to hang up the ballroom shoes and pull out the cleats," Ward said before he hit the field at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

Ward opened his 14th training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list after he had surgery on his left thumb in June to repair a ligament that he said was torn in the second game of the 2010 season.

He delayed the surgery until after he won "Dancing With the Stars."

He also had surgery on a knee right after the Super Bowl.

"I'm excited to be back, get my feet wet and continue to go out there and make plays," said the most prolific receiver in team history.

He marked his return by making his first catch in team drills typical of those he has made throughout his career -- diving over the middle at the goal line, which drew a nice response from the crowd.

"He looked like Hines," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, "and that's what we expect."

Ward said he will tape his thumb, just as he did for the rest of last season after the injury.

"I played 14 games with it last year. I'll be fine before the season opener in Baltimore."
Dixon on edge

Quarterback Dennis Dixon started the first two games of the 2010 season, both Steelers victories.

Now, he is fighting for a roster spot as he and Charlie Batch compete for the No. 3 job behind Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich.

Dixon predicted he will play "a lot" in the preseason opener Friday in Washington against the Redskins.

"They're probably going to rest Ben; he'll probably play a series," Dixon said. "Byron will probably play a half. That second half will probably be up to me and Chuck."

Dixon signed a one-year, $1.2 million tender as a restricted free agent after his agent publicly asked the Steelers to trade him.

Only three years younger than Roethlisberger, Dixon's future would not seem to be with the Steelers. He can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

"It's tough," he acknowledge of his lack of opportunity to advance.

"Obviously, you have to wait, you have to be patient. Whatever comes my way, I'll be happy. As long as I have a job, I'll be happy. Obviously you want to play and when that time comes you have to be ready."
Cap room

The Steelers are about $3 million under the NFL salary cap, but that can change before the season starts. Right now, it counts only the top 51 players' salary cap figures for 2011. By the start of the regular season, it counts the 53-man roster, the practice squad and anyone on injured reserve.
Quick hits

According to a report by Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com, the Steelers put in a waiver claim for wide receiver Dominque Edison but Dallas was awarded his rights after Seattle put him on waivers. ... The Steelers were awarded the rights on a waiver claim to defensive end Jarrett Crittenton of Seattle. They released rookie defensive end Ty Boyle of North Dakota State to make room for him. ... Receiver Limas Sweed (shoulder) started practice but could not finish. ... Rookie offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert practiced for the first time since his hamstring was injured in the first camp practice. ... Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (sprained ankle) practiced but did not participate in the 11-on-11 drills. ... Tony Hills ran a lot in place of Scott with the first team and, with Ramon Foster (concussion) out, Chris Scott ran with the first team at right guard. ... Gov. Tom Corbett spent the afternoon on the sideline watching practice.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11221/11 ... z1UVLgCdA7 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11221/1166086-66-0.stm#ixzz1UVLgCdA7)

08-15-2011, 05:21 PM
Ed: Ward Says Ravens 'All I Think About'



Hines Ward has one thing on his mind these days. Baltimore.

“That's all I think about,'' the Steelers veteran receiver said today. “The preseason is good but my mind is focused on one team, that's Baltimore.''

The Steelers open the season against the Ravens Sept. 11 in Baltimore. The two AFC North rivals have met in the post-season two of the past three years and the Steelers won both games at Heinz Field on their way to the Super Bowl – in the playoffs last season and in the AFC championship game in the 2008 season.

“They WOULD schedule us in Baltimore for the first game,'' Ward said. “It'll be an exciting way to start the season off. It's a divisional game so it's very important for us.

“I know their fans will be hyped up for the game. I call it the lions den because when you go down there there's just a mob of fans who hate the Pittsburgh, and what better way than to try to go down there and start their season off the wrong way with a loss.”

The Steelers and Ravens did not play until the fourth game of the 2010 season and Baltimore won that 14-7 at Heinz Field in the final game of Ben Roethlisberger's four-game suspension. The Steelers returned the favor, winning in Baltimore Dec. 5, 13-10. They then beat the Rasvens 31-24 in the playoffs, coming back from a 21-7 halftime deficit.

Ward sees it coming down to those two again in the division.

“They're always the competition. Every year it's going to come down to Baltimore and us in the AFC North. When you play Baltimore, you get in the weight room a little longer, you stay a little extra after practice because you know it's going to be a physical ballgame.”

http://plus.sites.post-gazette.com/inde ... &id=111224 (http://plus.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=111224)