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Ward has surgery on shoulder, not knee

| Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009

Hines Ward does not need surgery on the sprained right knee that limited him but did not prevent the Steelers' wide receiver from playing in Super Bowl XLIII, his agent said Tuesday.

Ward recently had successful surgery on his shoulder, Darren Martin said. Such so-called "clean-up" surgery is not uncommon for players in the offseason.

Ward had said after the Steelers' 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Feb. 1 that he might need surgery on his knee because he did not know if he had further damaged it by playing in the Super Bowl.

It appears that he will recover fully with rest, and Ward is not expected to be hampered by his knee in offseason workouts and practices.

Ward hurt his knee in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 25 and played two weeks later even though he said the injury would have normally sidelined him for at least a month.

Ward, who turns 33 next month, caught two passes for 43 yards in the Super Bowl. He is coming off his first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.

Big Ben's backup

Quarterback is one of the areas the Steelers need to address in the offseason — specifically, who will back up starter Ben Roethlisberger.

Both Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch can become unrestricted free agents on Feb. 27.

Batch had been Roethlisberger's backup before breaking his collarbone in the Steelers' first preseason game last August. The Steelers signed Leftwich, and he filled in capably when called upon last season.

Leftwich, 29, has said he has not ruled out returning to Pittsburgh but he may be tempted to sign with a team that gives him a chance to compete for a starting job. Batch, 34, is the more likely of the two to re-sign with the team, given the Pittsburgh native's age and his involvement with the community.

"All indications are that his health will be fine," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said of Batch.

High on White, Shipley

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has a handful of local college players listed among his top prospects, including Pitt's LeSean McCoy (No. 3 running back). One player not among Mayock's top five in his position-by-position breakdown of the draft is West Virginia quarterback Pat White.

White is not expected to play quarterback full time in the NFL, but Mayock said there is definitely a place for him at the next level.

"Pat White is one of my favorite players in the entire draft," Mayock said. "I would take him in the second round because I think he's a leader and presents problems for the defenses."

White, Mayock said, would be ideal for a team that wants to use him as a return man and wide receiver as well as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

Mayock is also high on A.Q. Shipley, a Moon High School and Penn State product, who is his fourth-rated center in the draft.

"Every time I put the tape on him, I love A.Q. Shipley," Mayock said. "People are going to (criticize) him because he may not even be six feet; they don't like his arm length. All I know is he can play."

Extra points

The Steelers' assistant coaches return from vacation today and will take part in the team's preparation for free agency as well as the draft. ... The NFL Network will air Super Bowl XLIII, including the pregame and halftime shows, on Thursday at 8 p.m. and again at 12:30 a.m.

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