Ward plans on playing
Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and the issue of concussions are in the news again.
Ward said he will play Sunday against the visiting Oakland Raiders despite getting knocked out of a 39-26 loss to the Patriots with a concussion at the end of the first quarter.
Ward, in fact, said he should have been allowed to return to last Sunday night's game, a decision the Steelers took out of his hands after he stumbled while coming off the field.
"It's football. You get your bell rung," said Ward, who will have to pass a battery of cognitive tests throughout the week before being cleared to play against the Raiders. "It's my body. I feel like if I want to go back out there, I feel like I should have the right.
"If I don't stumble, I'm right back in the game, but prideful me, I'm trying to get off the field quick. I should have laid there another minute or so."
The NFL has taken steps to discourage such thinking.
As part of its emphasis on player safety, the league requires that all teams hang a poster in their locker rooms on concussions and the long-term risks associated with multiple head trauma.
Ward made headlines last season on an issue that has moved to the forefront in recent years.
During an interview with NBC, he questioned why quarterback Ben Roethlisberger couldn't play against the Baltimore Ravens after experiencing post-concussion symptoms.
Ward later said that he did not call out Roethlisberger but merely pointed out that others in the Steelers locker room have played through concussions.
He made it clear after the Patriots game that players should have more of a say in when they are allowed to return after suffering a concussion.
"I felt like I could have played, but our (doctors) felt otherwise," said Ward, who had his streak of 186 consecutive regular-season games with at least one catch snapped when the play he was injured on was ruled an incompletion after review. "They saw me tripping over the grass, and the league was going to make a big deal about it, them putting me back out there."
3 questions with special teams captain and inside linebacker Keyaron Fox
Why has special teams play been significantly better this season?
"Guys are really taking on the responsibility of getting the job done after seeing what occurred last year. Special teams was the weak link out of all of our units, so a lot of guys took it upon themselves to make it better."
Do you have any fears?
"Public speaking. I'm not scared, but it just doesn't always go that well. I don't have a direct strategy (for dealing with it). It always makes it easier if I find a topic I'm comfortable with and letting it flow naturally."
What is the thing you like most about Pittsburgh?
"Of course, the fans are the No. 1 thing. Aside from that, I'm a big fan of the landscape. I like the mountains and the rivers. I also like the change of seasons."
4 -- Games in NFL history won with a passing touchdown of at least 50 yards on the final play, including the Jaguars' 31-24 victory over the Texans on Sunday
54.9v -- Percentage of passes the Raiders have completed, ranked 30th in the league
159.8 -- Raiders' passing yards per game in 2009
287 -- Passing yards the Raiders had in a 27-24 win against the Steelers last season
1,143 -- Yards receiving Mike Wallace is projected to have this season; it would be the 10th-highest total in team history
Players to watch
Raiders may have one of the premier corners in the league shadow Mike Wallace and force other Steelers receivers to beat them.
Team's leading receiver has moved the chains on 25 of his 34 receptions.
Averaged less than 16 carries in the Steelers' last four games but should have a heavier workload against the NFL's No. 25 rush defense.
Tight end Heath Miller, on the Steelers' loss to the Patriots:
"You look at it from an honest perspective. You be honest with yourself, see where you need to get better, see where we need to get better as a team and move forward from it. I don't think it's a wake-up call. I don't think anybody overlooked the game. We've just got to be honest in our evaluation."
Inside linebacker James Farrior, on the defense's struggles against the Patriots:
"I can't even remember a game like this. We got out-executed. I definitely don't want to overreact. I definitely feel like we've still got a good team. We've just got to put all the pieces together."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on injuries possibly catching up to the team:
"That would be making an excuse, and I'm not going to do that. Obviously, it hurts when you don't have guys out there. You're used to practicing with certain guys and then, all of sudden, you move guys around. But I do have to give a lot of credit to guys who came in and played their positions (against the Patriots) -- Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace moving around, Antwaan (Randle El)."