For now, Ward content to coach
May 19th, 2010
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They are colleagues with Hines Ward.

But rookie wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown probably look at Ward as more of a coach right now.

And that is a good thing.

With Ward still nursing a strained left hamstring — he sustained the injury during the Steelers’ first mini camp practice on April 30 -- the 13th-year veteran has essentially been a de facto coach since offseason practices resumed this week.

Ward may be the last player on the Steelers that needs the voluntary practices, which run through the second week of June.

His absence from the drills provides more work for youngsters such as Sanders and Brown — and allows them to pick the brain of a player who has excelled for more than a decade in large part because of his smarts.

“I’ve run curl routes for 13 years now so it’s not going to get any better than I can run it,” Ward said. “I’m still getting practice mentally but I think working with (younger) guys is more important mentally because we do need to add depth at our wide receiver position.

“I can run but I don’t want to come back and re-aggravate (the injury), I know that much. Coach (Mike) Tomin said ‘Don’t worry about anything. Just come back for training camp ready and prepared to go.’ ”

Not that Ward, who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, is planning on simply giving pointers over the next three weeks.

“Right now I’m rehabbing every day, getting better every day,” Ward said. “You’ll see me running some routes out here eventually. Right now my job is being one of the leaders making sure (younger players) gain as much knowledge as possible so they can help the depth at our position.”