But Hines Ward had a message for head coach Bill Cowher in a private meeting after Monday mornings practice: Don't take me for granted. Ward said his meeting on the field here at St. Vincent College with Cowher was just the player asking the coach what his situation with the team is. With the addition of Mathis and Randle El, Ward has been moved from the outside to slot and back again throughout practices. And the team's leading receiver in each of the past three seasons hasn't seen nearly as many passes thrown his way.
His message to Cowher?
"I don't want to be a guinea pig," said Ward, who caught a Steelers record 94 passes last season. "If you're going to play me in the slot now, play me there when the season starts. If not, you're wasting my time doing this in training camp."
You wouldn¹t think a team would take one of its star players and move him around in order to appease others. In fact, Troy Edwards balked at a move to the slot when the team asked him to move there in the spring, necessitating the need to sign Mathis and draft Randle El.
Yet Ward said his move to the slot wasn't even really discussed with him, hence his talk with Cowher Monday. "I'm in the slot on certain plays and other times I'm not," said Ward, whose 205 catches during last three seasons are the most in team history during a three-year span. "I think I've worked hard enough (to deserve better)."