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Late For Work 11/30: Ward Says Locker Room Split on Big Ben

Plus there’s work to be done, tough grades and Brian Billick coaching news.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 9:50 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ward: Locker Room Split on Big Ben

Yikes. Things aren’t looking good in Pittsburgh. And I’m not just talking about the Steelers’ three-game losing streak or their dwindling playoff hopes.

The Pittsburgh locker room is divided “50-50″ on whether quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should have played in the Steelers’ 20-17 overtime loss. This, according to receiver Hines Ward in his interview with NBC’s Bob Costas before the Sunday night bout.

Ward questioned Big Ben’s toughness and suggested that he should have fought through his fourth concussion since 2006 to play in their division rivalry game.

“I could see some players or teammates questioning, like ‘it’s just a concussion,’” Ward said. “I’ve played with a concussion before.’ It’s almost like a 50-50 toss up in the locker room. Should he play? Shouldn’t he play? It’s really hard to say.”

Before kickoff, NBC’s Andrea Kramer reported that, in the eleventh hour, Roethlisberger pleaded with head coach Mike Tomlin to play. Tomlin wouldn’t allow it due to the team neurosurgeon’s recommendation. Roethlisberger had experienced post-concussion symptoms after practices the week prior.

So why is Ward questioning his quarterback’s toughness? What was Roethlisberger supposed to do? Lie to the neurosurgeon? Seemed like a good plan to Ward:

“I’ve lied to a couple of doctors saying I’m straight, I feel good when I know that I’m not really straight,” he told NBC. “I don’t think guys really worry about the future while they’re playing currently in the NFL.”

Even after the game, Ward didn’t exactly rescind his comments.

“This is the biggest game of the year. We lost and kinda dug ourselves a hole. Me being a competitor I just wish we would’ve had all our weapons out there.”

While Ravens fans couldn’t care less if Pittsburgh can repair this crack before it turns into a bigger rift, Tomlin doesn’t think there is an issue among his team.

“I’m not worried about a problem in the locker room,” Tomlin said. “Of course, in that instance maybe Hines was uninformed.”

Still Need To Fight

Even though Baltimore (6-5) ended a three-game losing streak to Pittsburgh (6-5), ESPN blogger James Walker says that if the season ended today, the Denver Broncos (7-4) and Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5) would hold the two wild cards in the AFC.

The Ravens look to keep fighting for one of the coveted spots as they take on the Packers (7-4), Lions (2-9) and Bears (4-7) over the next three weeks, respectively.

Tough Grades

Despite playing against third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon, Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston believed the Ravens secondary still played poorly, giving the unit a D on the team’s report card.

It was tough for anyone to score well; nobody got higher than a B. Not even the running backs corps, which rushed for 132 yards. It was more than 57 yards better than the Steelers – the league’s No. 1 rushing defense – gives up on average per game.

Brian Billick to Notre Dame?

Spencer Tillman of CBS Sports reported at the half of the Alabama-Auburn game that former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick is a viable candidate for the soon-to-be opening at Notre Dame.

Tillman spoke with a few people very close to the Notre Dame process, says College Football Talk, who stated that Billick’s name has now emerged as “a strong and viable candidate for that opportunity.”

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