Hines Ward Certain He'll Play in Super Bowl

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Hines Ward is so certain his sprained knee won't keep him out of the Super Bowl, he believes he could play this week if necessary.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver didn't miss a game to
injury all season, and he said Wednesday he's not about to miss a
Super Bowl. Especially one against his former practice field
acquaintance, Larry Fitzgerald.

Ward became friends with the Arizona Cardinals' All-Pro receiver
when Fitzgerald played at Pitt, and the two have stayed in touch.
When both teams won their conference championship games Sunday,
they exchanged text messages.

"He texted me the other day and it was like, `Let us win, you
already have a ring,' " Ward said. "My response is, `I want two
rings.' "

Ward went to several Pitt games when Fitzgerald played for the
Panthers in 2002-03, and he realized immediately how good the young
receiver was.

"He was always asking me stuff," said Ward, who regularly
bumped into Fitzgerald in the practice facility the Steelers share
with Pitt. "He asks me questions to this day. He'll text me and
ask me about certain defensive backs and what not. He's a great
student of the game and he's got tons of talent."

Fitzgerald has set an NFL postseason record with 419 yards
receiving in three games and the Super Bowl still to play.

"He's very excited to be on the biggest stage in the Super
Bowl," Ward said of Fitzgerald, who predicted while in college he
would play in the Super Bowl. "Hopefully we can contain him and
not let him go wild."

Ward isn't the downfield threat Fitzgerald is, but he is one of
the NFL's most consistent receivers and was the Super Bowl MVP
three years ago when the Steelers beat Seattle.

Ward's injury - a sprained medial collateral ligament - can
sideline a player for an extended period, with running back Willie
Parker missing four games earlier this season. But with nearly two
weeks to rest before the Feb. 1 game in Tampa, Ward is confident he
will play.

"Just have to wait for the swelling to go down," Ward said.
"But (I) should be ready to go. I'll be OK. It feels good, it
feels better than it did yesterday."

Ward was injured during the first quarter of the AFC
championship game against Baltimore on Sunday and did not play most
of the final three quarters.

"I said, `Where's Hines? He must really be hurt, because of how
tough he is," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "Two weeks? That's
too many days for him to miss a game."

Left tackle Max Starks said he played with a tear in his
meniscus, not just a sprain, during the Steelers' last Super Bowl.

"A sprained knee is a relative term, especially with the braces
they have now, the technology," Starks said. "He might not be
able to move as fast but, knowing Hines, I can't see him not
playing. Maybe if somebody had a big tear, but to have a sprain and
to have two weeks off, most guys can usually come back from that."