Notebook: Ward practices and stops

Hines Ward

LATROBE -- With the young wide receivers seeking guidance, Hines Ward returned to the practice field after missing two weeks of work due to a strained left hamstring. Ward worked through half a practice, provided necessary leadership, and even beat cornerback ...

...Ike Taylor with a nifty move to haul in a deep out pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

But that play in the seven-on-seven non-contact drill was Ward's last. He felt what he called "a little bite" in the hamstring and called it a day.

"It felt pretty good but it started getting fatigued," he said. "I've been doing so much rehab in the last three or four days, I haven't given my hamstring enough time to rest. I felt fine earlier and then it started to stiffen up on me towards the end of practice. They told me to do what I could do, but I felt a little bite. I caught a corner route and felt something after that so I shut it down. We'll see how it feels [Tuesday]."

Ward wouldn't call it a setback, but after two such setbacks already he's holding his breath.

"If it bothers me tomorrow, yes, I'll be discouraged," he said. "But with all the rehab I've done, I really need to take a full day. But I felt good. I came out here Sunday and ran and today I was doing a lot of cutting with guys hanging all over me, so it can wear out the hamstring. It's day to day now."

Ward said he didn't turn up the jets full throttle.

"I still got open though. I can still get open on one leg, so I'm encouraged."

"As much as you want to have Hines in there," said Coach Bill Cowher, "the one thing it is doing right now is expediting the process for these young kids. They're getting a lot of reps out there and in the long run it will be good, but it'll be certainly good to get Hines back."

OKOBI EXPECTS TO RETURN

Wednesday will mark the second full week reserve center Chukky Okobi has missed since undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. But Okobi talked to Dr. Joseph Maroon at halftime of Saturday night's game and Maroon had good news for him.

"He realized my skeleton was laced with adamantine, and my healing powers being what they are he said I could probably come back next week," said Okobi, who meant full contact, not the snapping for passing drills that he performed at Monday's practice.

"I'm a phenom. They're writing an article about me in the American Journal of Medicine right now. It'll probably take them a couple months to finish it, but I'll be back on the playing field in a week."

COWHER ON STALEY

Cowher was asked to assess the performance of running back Duce Staley, who carried five times for 11 yards behind the first-team line Saturday.

"In the game he didn't do many bad things," Cowher said. "He really didn't have much of a chance in the game. We missed a couple blocks on a couple of his runs. I'm encouraged by watching him, particularly this past week and I think he's picking it up a notch so I'm encouraged."

NOT A BAD SIGN

Cowher's street sign in Crafton – Cowher Way – was stolen over the weekend. A reporter asked Cowher if he'd heard an update on the investigation.

"I don't think it was my brothers or my parents," Cowher joked. "I saw it in the paper. When that's making headlines I guess we're not playi

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