Hines Ward, Gary Russell Make News in Steelers 2009 OTA’s

Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin are not set to have their annual pre-draft conference until this afternoon, but the Steelers 2009 OTA’s are already yield some news.

Is Hines Ward Intent on Staying in Put in Pittsburgh?

Hines Ward is entering the final year of his contract, and is taking a very different attiude this time around. The last time he faced this situation, in 2005, he held out for the first half of training camp. Don’t expect a similar performance this time.

When asked about this contract, he told the Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette this:

The contract, we’re just going to play and whatever happens happens. I want to be a Steeler . . . I don’t want to put on another uniform. I’m late in the game now to worry about it. You look at all the previous players who went on and played for other places. I learned a lot from Jerome [Bettis], what he did. I want to go down in Steelers history to be one of the better wideouts to wear the black and gold.

Ward certainly does not sound like a man who has plans to go anywhere.

Last week, Steel Curtain Rising pointed out a comment made by Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest about Ward’s possible retirement to suggest that perhaps the Steelers Digest editor had information that either the Steelers or Ward himself, were contemplating retirement for number 86 at the conclusion of 2009.

Colbert [sort of] Explains Release of Gary Russell

Kevin Colbert also stated that Gary Russell was waived in order to make salary cap room for Charlie Batch…. Ok.

Kevin Colbert certainly knows the Steelers salary cap numbers better than Steel Curtain Rising does, but his explanation does not make sense.

  • If the Steelers needed cap space then why cut Gary Russell, who was seeing his role expanded, and not Cary Davis, who had seen his role retrenched?
  • If the Steelers are so desperate for cap space that they need to cut second year players, then who else is slated for the copping block when it comes time to sign the draft picks?

If the Steelers do do something like cut Larry Foote to free up cap space, then you’ll know Colbert is shooting straight. But if the Steelers don’t make major salary-cap related moves after the draft, that’s a pretty strong indicator that there were other factors motivating the team’s decision to part ways with Gary Russell.


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