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Ward to miss only second career game due to injury

11/28/2006 - NFL Hines Ward Pittsburgh Steelers + more

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward
had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday and will miss at
least one game.

Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver, first hurt the knee Nov. 19
against Cleveland -- an injury initially called a hyperextension. He
took painkilling shots to play in a 27-0 loss Sunday at Baltimore,
but the injury flared up again during the third quarter and he left
the game.

"I tried to play through it," he said.

When an MRI exam Monday revealed a broken bone, Ward immediately
underwent arthroscopic surgery. He said the operation was much like
that which sidelined quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for three games
last season.

The Steelers normally don't disclose injury updates until coach
Bill Cowher's press conference Tuesday, but Ward revealed the
injury during his weekly paid appearance on KDKA-TV.

Ward hopes to return as early as Pittsburgh's home game against
Cleveland on Dec. 7, though the schedule could work against him.
The Steelers play two games in five days, with a Sunday home game
against Tampa Bay followed by the Cleveland game.

"It's going to be at least one week," said Ward, who has
missed only one previous game to injury during his nine-season NFL
career. "I'm going to try to get back out there, but I've got to
be smart about it ... this is the first time I've ever had
surgery."

Ward said the Steelers' 4-7 record and the fact they are all but
mathematically eliminated from repeating as Super Bowl champions
will not influence his decision to come back as quickly as
possible.

"It's about pride now, competing and not throwing in the
towel," he said. "I hope guys were embarrassed by the way we
played."

With the Steelers out of playoff contention, much of the focus
will shift to Cowher's status. Cowher, in his 15th season, hasn't
said if he will return -- although he's signed through next season.

Last year, Cowher and his family purchased a luxury home in
Raleigh, N.C, where he attended North Carolina State, and there is
speculation he may retire there as early as next year.

North Carolina State fired coach Chuck Amato during the weekend,
but it is highly unlikely the Steelers would allow a coach under
contract to take another job -- even one outside the NFL.

Also, Cowher has never said he would be interested in coaching
in college after spending all of his coaching career in the NFL. He
was an assistant coach with Cleveland and Kansas City from 1985-91
before being hired by Pittsburgh in 1992.

Ward doesn't believe the uncertainty regarding Cowher's status
helped lead to the Steelers' falloff in play this season.

"It's hard to say it's a factor," Ward told KDKA-TV. "As
players, it's out of our control. ... We weren't ready to play on
Sunday and you can't put that on the coach."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.