Late For Work 11/3: Ward: Wouldn’t Miss This For The World

Wallace responds to Webb; Flacco set for big-time redemption; Hampton issues guarantee.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 at 9:03 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ward To Suggs: Wouldn’t Miss This For The World

You’ve seen the video.

Terrell Suggs looked into the camera yesterday, put his hands together as if he were begging and delivered a message to Steelers receiver Hines Ward.

“I’m looking right at you 86. I need you to play. Please put on that 86, that smile and all the things you do. We need all that for this game.”

Ward was told about Suggs’ plea. After missing the New England matchup last week with a sprained ankle, he promised he would play.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Ward said per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I think you have to play in this rivalry for a while to understand it. You have to understand the magnitude of it, what it means. … They whipped our butt the first game. There’s nothing we can really do about that; now we get a chance Sunday night in Heinz Field.”

Suggs and Ward better make the matchup count because PFT.com’s Mike Florio and Post-Gazette Ed Bouchette believe it could be Ward’s last.

The current crop of Steelers young receivers could force Ward out of town. The 14-year veteran currently ranks fourth on the team in receptions (26 for 258 yards) behind Mike Wallace (43 for 800), Antonio Brown (34 for 431) and tight end Heath Miller (30 for 361).

“You have to wonder at what point the Steelers say, ‘You know what, Hines Ward you’re a luxury we can’t afford anymore,’” said Florio.

Bouchette said it is possible the cord is cut after this season.

“His production is down. Coming into this year there was no doubt he was going to be here and he was going to start, but if these guys come on, I think it is possible that this is his last year here. I don’t know, but the second half of this year is certainly going to tell a lot.”

Wallace On Webb: Who Is That Guy?

Cornerback Lardarius Webb created headlines yesterday when he said that Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was better than teammate Mike Wallace.

Wallace heard the comments, and was quick to reply.

“Who is that guy?” he asked.

“I mean, I heard of him, but at the end of the day, he can’t check me, so it is what it is,” Wallace said, via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s got to be somebody who really matters to motivate me; he really don’t.”

Wallace is among the league leaders in several statistical categories including receptions (43), yards (800), touchdown catches (five) and yards per catch (18.6).

King: Flacco Set For Big-Time Redemption

Taking a week-by-week look back at quarterback Joe Flacco’s passing production so far this season, you can easily detect a pattern of inconsistency.

Week 1: 224 yards
Week 2: 197 yards
Week 3: 389 yards
Week 4: 163 yards
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: 305 yards
Week 7: 137 yards
Week 8:  336 yards

It’s the herky-jerky numbers that has ESPN’s Ashley Fox arguing on the negative side of the long-debated question: Is Flacco elite?

“Flacco is good, potentially very good,” she said. “He’s just not consistent enough to be considered elite.”

But SI.com’s Peter King picked Flacco as his quarterback to find big-time redemption in the second half of the season now that the fourth-year veteran has had a chance to become better acquainted with his new receiving corps.

“I’m not saying he’s gotten a lot of bad football out of his system, but he’s learned some new receivers: Torrey Smith, both of his tight ends and this year Lee Evans is new. [Evans] is going to be playing a bigger role in the second half.

“So he basically has a totally new cadre of receivers which he has taken the whole first half of the season to learn. I think starting with the victory over Arizona, he really started to show that he is rounding into what was maybe his form two years ago.”

Don’t Count Out Harrison – Even If He Already Did

The ambiguity around of the status of the Steelers linebackers continues – even with outside linebacker James Harrison, who declared himself out earlier this week.

Don’t count James Harrison out of the AFC North showdown Sunday night at Heinz Field – even if James Harrison already did,” wrote Bouchette.

Harrison practiced for the first time yesterday since the bone around his eye was broken in Week 4. The eight-year veteran said Monday he was only cleared to practice, but after he did so without any complications yesterday, he is now saying that he could be cleared to play Sunday .

To do so, Harrison will have to pass another eye exam, which is expected to be conducted Friday or Saturday.

“I’ll probably get scanned again, and they’ll ask me how I’m feeling,” said Harrison, who wore a tinted visor in practice.  

The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he would like to play, but is leaving the decision up to doctors.

“I got two eyes. I’m not playing with my vision. So, if they say no, that’s not something I’m willing to do.”

Woodley: Bad Leak

Meanwhile, the Post-Gazette is still reporting fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley won’t play Sunday due to his hamstring injury – even if he says he still might.

Woodley personally refuted the report on “Around the League Live,” while Gerry Dulac, the man responsible for the report, was shooting a segment with the NFL Network.

“Man, this guy don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t know where he gets his information from. Bad leak,” said a good-natured Woodley behind a chuckling Dulac.

Hampton Issues Guarantee

The Best Rivalry In Sports

Right Click for Full Screen Option

It was a guarantee, but it wasn’t very bold.

Steelers defensive tackle Casey Hampton said the Ravens could potentially beat his team Sunday, but it won’t be a 35-7 thrashing like it was in Round I.

“I can’t see that happening again,” he said, via the Post-Gazette.  ”If they beat us, they’re going to beat us, but it’s not going to be an out-tempo thing, where they’re playing faster and with more intensity.

“I guarantee you that.”

Best Rivalry In Sports

Suggs said there is the Super Bowl and then right under that there is the Ravens-Steelers rivalry.

This eight-minute NFL Films explains why.

Ravens and Steelers head coaches John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin explain what makes the AFC North rivalry so compelling. It’s definitely worth a watch.

Quick Hits

  • Joe Flacco hasn’t had much success when playing in Pittsburgh. He’s just 1-4 in his career (including postseason) and has thrown for 176 yards per game. [ESPN Stats and Information]
  • Who will have the bigger game Sunday night: Suggs or quarterback Ben Roethlisberger? So far 58 percent of 3,993 voters say Roethlisberger. Cast your vote.
  • Former Ravens receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh still hasn’t gotten over dropping the ball in the fourth quarter of the playoff game against the Steelers. He is hoping that his time in Oakland will help erase that bitter taste.  “That was the biggest reason for me going to Baltimore last year and, again, when it mattered, I dropped the ball,” he said Wednesday. “That’s something I really don’t do, so I’m eager to get that behind me also.” [NFL.com]
  • The Steelers beat the Ravens 71 percent of the time in AccuScore’s 10,000 simulations of the matchup. [ESPN]
  • Both the Ravens and Steelers have been hurt by unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the past. This time the Ravens will try to remain calm. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • They were brilliant against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their season opener. John Eisenberg examines what went so right that day and whether it can happen again Sunday at Heinz Field. [CSNBaltimore.com]

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