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hawaiiansteel
09-04-2011, 03:48 AM
Has a Second Member of "Young Money" Earned a Chance to Start at Wide Receiver for the Steelers?

by Anthony Defeo on Sep 3, 2011

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/1840318/88908_Falcons_Steelers_Football.jpg

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) makes a catch in front of Atlanta Falcons cornerback Chris Owens (21) for a 55-yard touchdown reception

There have been few Steelers more popular than Hines Ward over the course of his career. His legacy is pretty much etched in stone no matter what he does for the remainder of his storied career.

The football gods broke the mold when they made number 86. He is about as tough as any receiver who has ever played in the NFL. But to describe Hines Ward as simply a receiver doesn't really do the man justice. He's an all-around football player who just happens to play wide receiver. On any given Sunday, he can be seen making a critical reception on 3rd and long one minute and a crushing block on a helpless defensive back the next.

Ward came into the NFL as a 3rd round draft choice in 1998. A former collegiate quarterback at Georgia, Ward honed his receiving skills while paying his dues on special teams early in his career. In time, almost through sheer will and determination, Ward turned himself into a number one receiver in the NFL. This despite the Steelers using first round picks on players at Ward's position in back-to-back seasons just as he was trying to establish himself in the league.

It goes without saying Ward is the most accomplished receiver in team history. His 954 career receptions and Super Bowl XL mvp are just two of many impressive accomplishments on his lengthy resume.

Having said all that, however, is it time for Ward to take a step back and a decreased role in the Steelers offense?

Antonio Brown was the story of the preseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I personally witnessed him put on a show during a trip to training camp earlier this summer.

His performance against the Atlanta Falcons in last week's preseason game at Heinz Field had Steeler Nation buzzing the entire week.

In only his second season, it has been said that Brown is still pretty raw and a bit undisciplined despite his habit of making huge splash plays. Maybe another year playing behind Ward and Wallace will make Brown a more polished receiver, but man, he already has the speed and explosiveness that you cannot coach. And, to quote coach Tomlin, he's shown that "the moment isn't too big for him" with his clutch receptions late in playoff victories over the Ravens and Jets in last year's Super Bowl run.

Hines is 35 years old, and even though Ward's game was never about speed, it's obvious that he's not the player he used to be. Who is, right? Mean Joe Greene said by Super Bowl XIII, he didn't have the same quickness and power that he did early in his career. His mind knew where to go and what to do, but the body just couldn't get there as fast as before. Greene was an all-time Steeler so there is no shame in a legend losing a step or two.

And a Steelers legend losing his starting job near the end of his career wouldn't be unprecedented.

During the 2003 preseason, Bill Cowher went with his gut and named Amos Zereoue the starting tailback ahead of long-time starter Jerome Bettis. And even though Bettis would occasionally resume his role as starter from time-to-time, he would remain a back-up the last three years of his career.

Despite his pride no doubt taking a hit, Bettis accepted his back-up role and was still a key member of the team and an inspirational leader. Bettis was one of the driving forces for Pittsburgh's Super Bowl XL triumph.

Even as a number three receiver, Ward would still be valuable to the passing game. In today's NFL, the number three receiver in an offense is almost like being a starter with so much emphasis being placed on the passing game. Can you picture Ward lined up opposite the opponent's nickelback and working the guy for a key 3rd down reception? It would be like taking candy from a baby.

Ward would still get his catches and be an important cog in the offense as the team makes a transition into a tandem of "young money" receivers.

And a 2nd year receiver assuming a starting role wouldn't be unprecedented. In 2009, Mike Wallace was the 3rd receiver for the Steelers. In his second season, he took advantage of the departure of Santonio Holmes to become the team's number one receiver and one of the most dangerous deep-threats in the game. It appears that Brown has that same raw ability of a Mike Wallace, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if they were both unleashed on a secondary for an entire game.

As popular as Ward has been with the Steelers in his career, the Bus was probably equally as popular in his heyday. Hines Ward looked up to Bettis during his time with the Steelers, and if the Bus could accept a back up role in the twilight of his legendary career, I see no reason why Hines Ward can't do the same.

Antonio Brown may be inexperienced, but he's a hungry young lion, and sometimes you just have to let a young lion roar.

What do you think? Should Hines take a step back at this stage of his career, or are his intangibles and role as a team leader too valuable and important for him to be a back-up?

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... rt-at-wide (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/9/3/2401985/has-a-second-member-of-young-money-earned-a-chance-to-start-at-wide)

Discipline of Steel
09-04-2011, 08:11 AM
Not a critism of the author, he makes his point pretty well. But that is in a world where WRs are ordered 1, 2, 3 and the best two start the game. I think the more important point is whether Antonio Brown will play a larger role and produce more (yes, stats) than Hines Ward. Which one will separate from coverage and be targeted by Ben more often. Remember, its always up to the defense which CB (1, 2, 3) they choose to cover each guy with. If we say Ward is #3, does that mean other teams will put their #3 defender on him? I'd say not necessarily.

So hypothetically speaking, which guy will be better this season? Ward will benefit frrequently from single coverage underneath while Wallace and Brown steer the safeties downfield and out of his way. Consistent 3rd down production will trump the occasional splash play when its all said and done. They will probably end up with comparable stats but Ward's savvy and leadership still make him the more complete player.

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-04-2011, 08:52 AM
Not a critism of the author, he makes his point pretty well. But that is in a world where WRs are ordered 1, 2, 3 and the best two start the game. I think the more important point is whether Antonio Brown will play a larger role and produce more (yes, stats) than Hines Ward. Which one will separate from coverage and be targeted by Ben more often. Remember, its always up to the defense which CB (1, 2, 3) they choose to cover each guy with. If we say Ward is #3, does that mean other teams will put their #3 defender on him? I'd say not necessarily.

So hypothetically speaking, which guy will be better this season? Ward will benefit frrequently from single coverage underneath while Wallace and Brown steer the safeties downfield and out of his way. Consistent 3rd down production will trump the occasional splash play when its all said and done. They will probably end up with comparable stats but Ward's savvy and leadership still make him the more complete player.

Discipline, that could not be said any better by any author ^^ . :Agree :tt2 :tt1

:ratsuck

Oviedo
09-04-2011, 08:55 AM
Third and long and you need a play, I want Hines on the field. No one in the NFL is better at finding holes in a defense.

I think the reality is that we are going to see a whole lot of 4 WR sets this season.

chiken
09-04-2011, 09:07 AM
By mid Season yes but not at the start. Production should Determine who does what and right now Hines is our most productive Receiver. I do feel this changes this year but until it does.

papillon
09-04-2011, 09:12 AM
Ward will get his playing time one way or another. I personally believe that once he reaches 1,000 catches we may see less and less of Ward. The Steelers typically get vets off the field when they begin to lose a step; in this case, I believe they will want to get Ward the 46 catches he needs this year and then ease him into a lesser role or retirement. He isn't the player he used to be and getting 3 catches per game isn't going to be easy for him, IMO.

Pappy

steelblood
09-04-2011, 09:38 AM
At the end of last season, Ward and E. Sanders were splitting time in two wide receiver sets. Look for Brown to become part of a rotation at WR. Ward and sometimes Wallace will come out in 2 WR sets. Rotating our WRs will also help wear down DBs. Imagine alternating Wallace and Brown and sending them on downfield routes on every play. The opposing CB will be gassed.

D Rock
09-04-2011, 11:10 AM
At the end of last season, Ward and E. Sanders were splitting time in two wide receiver sets. Look for Brown to become part of a rotation at WR. Ward and sometimes Wallace will come out in 2 WR sets. Rotating our WRs will also help wear down DBs. Imagine alternating Wallace and Brown and sending them on downfield routes on every play. The opposing CB will be gassed.

That's a wonderful thing to think about.

NJ-STEELER
09-04-2011, 12:24 PM
Simple answer.... Yes


Or at the least, more 3 receiver sets. Get the playmaker tone on the field

AngryAsian
09-04-2011, 01:09 PM
If we plan to dink and dunk our way down field and chew up clock and using 13+ plays to migrate down field, I want Hines. If you want to go big with a splash play, we obviously need the young fast legs that stretches the field... Brown. Having all five weapons to choose from (Wallace, Ward, Cotchery, Sanders and Brown) is the best prospect Ben has had with regards to an arsenal. Regardless, WR is an area of depth that's going to make some noise this season.

NorthCoast
09-04-2011, 01:13 PM
I just finished watching a video of Big Ben's highlights over the years.

Guess who was on the receiving end in over half the clips? Ben will miss Hines when Hines moves on with his life's work.

RuthlessBurgher
09-04-2011, 01:18 PM
Both Brown and Ward should start. Our base offensive set this year should be 3 wide without a doubt. Wallace-Ward-Brown-Miller-Mendenhall...that's putting Ben's optimal weapons at his disposal. Occasionally sub in Cotchery for Ward or Sanders for Brown to keep everyone fresh. Arians' obsession with 2 TE sets should cease, except in short yardage or goal line situations, because there is no reasonable argument you could make for taking out one of these playmaking wideouts in order to get David Johnson more playing time.

Eddie Spaghetti
09-04-2011, 01:30 PM
Both Brown and Ward should start. Our base offensive set this year should be 3 wide without a doubt. Wallace-Ward-Brown-Miller-Mendenhall...that's putting Ben's optimal weapons at his disposal. Occasionally sub in Cotchery for Ward or Sanders for Brown to keep everyone fresh. Arians' obsession with 2 TE sets should cease, except in short yardage or goal line situations, because there is no reasonable argument you could make for taking out one of these playmaking wideouts in order to get David Johnson more playing time.

bingo.

Shoe
09-04-2011, 02:14 PM
I think what the gist of the article is, is whether the kid should get opportunities in spite of Hines. I think the answer is Yes. The kid has been nothing short of a marvel this pre-season. Of course I'm not saying he's the next Lynn Swann or something. But he's made such consistent plays, you can't deny him. It wouldn't be right. He's earned opportunities in big-time situations. I do think we'll do a lot of that 3WR stuff that RuthlessBurger mentioned, so a lot of times this argument is moot. But if you were to ask me (Hines Ward is my favorite all-time Steeler), I'd start the kid I think. He separates, he creates, he scares defenses (or he will, when they start to pay attention). That opens up so much of the field for everyone else.

fordfixer
09-04-2011, 03:39 PM
If we plan to dink and dunk our way down field and chew up clock and using 13+ plays to migrate down field, I want Hines. If you want to go big with a splash play, we obviously need the young fast legs that stretches the field... Brown. Having all five weapons to choose from (Wallace, Ward, Cotchery, Sanders and Brown) is the best prospect Ben has had with regards to an arsenal. Regardless, WR is an area of depth that's going to make some noise this season.


It's nice that we now have the option to dink and dunk our way down field and chew up clock or go big with a splash play now :tt1 :tt1 :tt1

NorCal-Steeler
09-04-2011, 03:53 PM
I think both Brown and Sanders will platoon at #3. Sanders was on fire as well last year and been recovering all preseason. He played well in the final year and i see them both getting equal play time untill one seperates themselves or Ward breaks down. As much as i like Wallace's big play ability i dont think he is the complete player that Brown or Sanders can be. I see plenty of rotation for all the recievers.

hawaiiansteel
09-06-2011, 01:45 PM
Steelers' Ward nearing elite mark

By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

http://files.pittsburghlive.com/photos/2011-09-05/dghines-a.jpg

Hines Ward needs just 46 more receptions to become the eighth player in NFL history to record 1,000. "If I reach it, maybe I can prove to all the naysayers that, 'Hey, he's a pretty good wide receiver,'" Ward said. "There's still critics. That's what fuels me."

Good company

Hines Ward needs just 46 receptions to reach rarefied air when it comes to pass-catchers. Only seven have caught 1,000 passes during their career:

Jerry Rice: 1,549

Marvin Harrison: 1,102

Cris Carter: 1,101

Tim Brown: 1,094

Terrell Owens: 1,078

Tony Gonzalez: 1,069

Isaac Bruce: 1,024

Randy Moss and Hines Ward: 954

Andre Reed: 951

Hines Ward has plans if he finds his way to the end zone Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

"If I score," the Steelers wide receiver recently said with a smile, "I'll give a 'Dancing with the Stars' tribute."

Ward has probably known for a while the specifics of the tribute he'll unleash if he drops six on the Ravens.

The 14th-year veteran, after all, said in early August that he had started focusing on the Steelers' regular-season opener in Baltimore.

The Steelers officially did the same once they set their 53-man roster last week. They literally open the season with a bang (of pads) when they visit the team that is expected to challenge them for superiority in the AFC North.

Ward is one of the faces of the bitter, hard-hitting rivalry, and not just because his career is almost as old as Baltimore's second NFL franchise.

Long before he won "Dancing with the Stars," Ward became a YouTube sensation by leveling Ravens linebacker Bart Scott and safety Ed Reed with crushing blocks.

Talking about doing an end zone celebration in Baltimore may not seem like a prudent thing to do given how charged the Steelers-Ravens rivalry is and how polarizing a figure that Ward is in it. Then again, it's not like Ward is on the Ravens' Christmas card list anyway.

What may be more noteworthy as he embarks on his 13th season as a starter is that Ward is nearing a milestone that will burnish his Hall of Fame credentials.

Ward needs only 46 catches to become the eighth player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions.

"To do it all with this organization, not playing in a dome, not really playing in a passing offense, I think it just speaks volumes about my longevity in the league and consistency over the years," Ward said. "If I reach it, maybe I can prove to all the naysayers that, 'Hey, he's a pretty good wide receiver.' There's still critics. That's what fuels me."

The lack of respect card is a classic Ward play.

Slights, real or perceived, have driven him since high school, and they have helped make him the team's all-time leading receiver as well as one of its leaders in the locker room.

On Sunday, Ward's teammates voted him an offensive captain for the seventh time.

"It's definitely his (meeting) room," second-year wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. "He's got to be one of the smartest receivers if not the smartest receiver in the National Football League. I just try to get under his wing and pick his brain."

Ward has flown under the radar since winning Dancing with the Stars in May and then getting arrested for DUI in July (his court date is next month and Andy Ree, his attorney, has said he expects Ward to be cleared of any wrongdoing).

Antonio Brown emerged as the star of the preseason, and other receiver-related issues such as Sanders' health and the Steelers' courting of Plaxico Burress grabbed the headlines.

Despite the depth and young talent the Steelers have at wide receiver, the 35-year-old Ward still is expected to be a significant part of the passing game.

"I'm surprised, at his age, that he's such a playmaker," Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. "And he does it year in and year out."

He's done it enough years that Ward now stands at the entrance of a very exclusive club. He has never caught fewer than 48 passes since becoming a starter.

If Ward stays healthy, there isn't any reason to think he won't notch his 1,000th career reception this season.

"I would love to do it at Heinz Field," he said.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1XBguqogD (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755227.html#ixzz1XBguqogD)

Oviedo
09-06-2011, 02:33 PM
I hope Hines stays healthy enough to get 1,000 this season. When he leaves he will be leaving our WR corps in great shape with Wallace, Sanders and Brown.

fezziwig
09-06-2011, 05:05 PM
Despite the PA-ZAZ Brown shows, I still want the experience that Hines brings to the game. Besides, no way do the coaches not have Hines out there on the field.

I just hope Arian does a lot of 4 receiver sets and allow all are guys to drive the Ravens bats.

BackwoodsSteeler
09-06-2011, 06:18 PM
Ruthless said:

Both Brown and Ward should start. Our base offensive set this year should be 3 wide without a doubt.
Exactly.

With the weapons we have, to not go 3 wide as a base is innane.

flippy
09-06-2011, 07:34 PM
I wonder more if Sanders will end up seeing the field more than Brown?

hawaiiansteel
09-07-2011, 02:06 AM
I wonder more if Sanders will end up seeing the field more than Brown?

Mike Tomlin on the health status of No. 3 wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who did not play until the final preseason game as he overcame surgery on both feet this year:

"I believe he is ready to get going. He's worked extremely hard. When given an opportunity to perform, he's performed well. He is a smart guy, not only in terms of what he does on the field but in the classroom. I think he's continued to grow in that area even when not given physical reps. We expect him to be a guy to be ready to deliver for us on Sunday."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11250/11 ... z1XEiou8hy (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11250/1172650-66-0.stm?cmpid=sports.xml&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#ixzz1XEiou8hy)