Ward: “I Have To Play”
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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward put speculation to rest Wednesday, declaring himself ready to play Sunday against Baltimore at Heinz Field.
Ward sat out Pittsburgh’s 25-17 win against New England with an ankle injury he sustained at Arizona in Week 7. After participating in practice and then hearing the comments of Baltimore defensive end Terrelle Suggs, Ward said there’s no question he’ll be healthy and in uniform Sunday.
“I have to play because (Suggs) said so,” Ward said, according to the Steelers official website. “I’m never going to miss the Baltimore-Steelers rivalry game. He’s looking for me to come out and play. He’s kind of calling me out to play. I thought I’d never hear that, but I’ll be out there. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
“This is one of those games as players that you really want to be a part of. It seems like it always ends up being on prime time and, for us, they whipped our tails the first time so now we have a chance to get some get-back and hopefully have a different outcome and take control of the AFC North.”
Suggs was rather candid in a conference call Wednesday afternoon with the media. Of all the Steelers, Suggs was concentrated on calling out Ward and demanded that he plays Sunday.
“Tell 86 I hope he plays, because it wouldn’t be Baltimore-Pittsburgh without him,” Suggs said. “I would be really disappointed if 86 didn’t play. 86 has got to play.
“55 (Suggs) is going to be on the field regardless, even if I only have one shoulder. 86 has got to play. I need him personally to play, for me.”
Ward says he respects Suggs as a player and noted the respect between the two teams. He said comments like these are why this rivalry is great.
“I love it. It wouldn’t be a rivalry if he wasn’t out on the field, if I wasn’t out on the field,” Ward said. “For him to refer to me by number and not use my name, I chuckle about it. We respect each other. I don’t dislike him. He is a great, phenomenal ball player. I just don’t like him when we play them.
“I respect him. Every year I look back on the hardest team I have played against and this rivalry itself, he is right there in the middle. Him and Ray (Lewis). I wish Ray would retire. I want to play Baltimore one time without Ray on the field and not have to worry about him on the field.”