Ward talking Super Bowl again

Steelers' veteran wide receiver Hines Ward addressed the Pittsburgh media -- as a member of the national media -- at the opening of training camp Sunday. A transcript of that exchange follows:

HINES WARD

Q: What's that with you?

A: Camcorder. I'm working with NFL Network. I'm behind the scenes in training camp. This is the Steelers Cam.

Q: How does it feel to be on this side?

A: The more you can do. You never know, I might be on this side with you guys. I'm learning from you guys.

Q: Are you excited about the offense with the draft picks?

A: The excitement's there. Mendenhall will get a chance in training camp once we start hitting. He's ready to show his abilities. Sweed's coming along in his development. We've added some new faces, so there's some excitement there. Last we were coming on. I think Ben had his best year as a Pro Bowl player. He'll continue to grow as a quarterback. Another year of Santonio and Nate and myself, and you add Sweed and the other younger guys, hopefully we can have a nice receiving corps.

Q: Were you surprised when the ownership situation became public this summer? Do you expect it to be a distraction?

A: Yeah, but I'm not going to go there with that. I'm worried about trying to win the Super Bowl. You can talk to Mr. Rooney about that. As players, we're not going to comment on that.

Q: Do you have the same excitement now that you had in Year 1 or Year 2?

A: Always. Man, I'm blessed. Playing in the NFL for this long, every year feels like being a rookie all over again. I look forward to coming out here and sweating with the guys because this is where the foundation is built. The hard part is training camp. The games and everything else comes easily.

Q: How many more do you have in you?

A: Plenty. I have plenty. No will to retire yet. You know, last year was a rough year because I was banged up all year. This year, if I can just stay healthy throughout the year then I'm going to continue producing the way I have been producing.

Q: What does your body feel like?

A: For me it feels excellent. I'm coming in here in shape. I've been working out. My regimen's been good. To last this long in the NFL, and I haven't missed that many games. I've had my knee scoped a couple times but my longevity speaks for itself. I haven't missed a lot of games throughout my career. As of late, I've been banged up here and there, but I'm feeling good, especially coming into this training camp. I'm really excited. Last year, losing to Jacksonville in the first round of the playoffs was disappointing. For me, I don't want anything less than a Super Bowl and that's why we come out here twice a day, to try to win a Super Bowl. Anything less than a Super Bowl is a bad year for me.

Q: Is the knee 100 percent?

A: The knee's 100 percent. I've been rehabbing with guys and now I'm back.

Q: Now that you're a reporter, what question would you ask yourself?

A: Do you still think you're the go-to guy? ‘Do you still think you're the go-to guy, Hines?' ‘Uh, I like to think so. It's my job to get Santonio and Sweed and the other guys developed and come into their own so I can get the double-teams off of me so we can go out there and have another productive year in the passing game. So look for a big year out of Santonio and Hines this year.'

Q: What advice would you give Limas?

A: He's trying so hard to impress everybody. Being drafted high, expectations are there. Don't get down on yourself. As a rookie there's a learning curve. It usually takes about two or three years for the light bulb to come on. For him, it's just gradually getting him out there, and once we gradually get him out there making plays his development will continue to grow and grow and he'll be the guy that we drafted. I'm going to do all I can to help his development. He's definitely going to be an asset to our team, so I'm going to do all I can to help him on the field.

Q: How much better can Ben be this year?

A: We all can be better. It's hard to see, based off stats, if a guy's really gotten better or not. With a quarterback, we'd love to have him evolve to where he's calling his own plays and doing a lot of stuff. And I know he's itching at the bit to get out there and run that no-huddle and not have guys in his ear all the time. He definitely can get better, and as receivers we're going to go out there and make his job as easy as possible.

Q: Willie Colon said the offensive line had a problem learning new tricks last year. Has there been resistance to change?

A: It was a feeling out point. You've done something so many ways for so many different years and it helped you get to a Super Bowl. And then when somebody comes in and tweaks it, the trust is really hard to overcome because we won a Super Bowl without that coaching staff. You want to be coachable, but at the same time you're going to revert to what comes natural to you. And the younger guys, on the breaking edge, who do they listen to? Do you go with the veteran guy or do you go out and really try to do what the coaches are telling you? We all can get better. For us, it's just a matter of getting on the same page. You've got to trust the coaches so they put you in position to be successful. It really comes down to trusting your coach.

Q: How did you respond to the new position coach last year?

A: He's done a lot of things like that. I'm the most coachable guy. If anyone has something to help me improve my game, I'm always going to listen. I'd be stupid not to. At the same time I'll tell him what I think and go from there. We both can make each other better.

Q: How good can this offense be?

A: It can be really good. Santonio's coming into his own as a deep threat playmaker down the field. You add myself. Heath has come into his own. You've got a one-two punch at running back. Ben's coming off a Pro Bowl year. Nate Washington's come along. We have weapons. Now it's just a matter of all of us getting on the same page and jelling. The offense usually comes along slower to come along, but we had a great off-season, a lot of guys were there. Hopefully we can go into training camp hitting on all cylinders.

Q: Is more no-huddle the next step in the offense?

A: I don't know. It's up to Bruce Arians. He loves to use the no-huddle to change the tempo of the game. Ben really likes it. We excelled at it. When we needed some drives, we went down the field non-stop.

Q: Did he go to it enough last year?

A: We can do a little more, but at the same time, as the season goes on and the weather gets bad, you still have to rely on your running game. When Willie Parker went down we never could find our rhythm. Now you add Mendenhall in there with a healthy Willie, we've got a great one-two combo. We're able to do a lot of different things. Look for this offense to just keep expanding. It's going to be exciting to watch. Bruce Arians, he's an evolver. He likes to change things up and throw defenses up. And I know Ben loves it. He loves the spread attack.

Q: What's Arians going to do to reduce sacks with Ben and the receivers?

A: We've got to make sure we pick up on our hot reads.

Q: Will there be more 3-step drops?

A: More. But it was more about missed communication. We didn't have everybody on the same page. Half of those sacks had to do with one guy being off the page, missing the hot or something. Recievers, quarterbacks, offensive line, running backs, we're all in it together. We'll stress that come tomorrow. We're doing blitz pickups the first thing in the morning. We've definitely got to improve on sacks because there was a lot of hidden yardage we gave up out there. There were plenty of times Santonio or I were wide open and we couldn't get the ball there. That's something we're really going to emphasize this training camp: picking up on all the blitzes and hot reads.


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