The addition of Jerrich Cotchery this past off-season was looked upon as an insurance move to replace the aging Antwaan Randle El. A hamstring injury shelved Jerricho for the first three games. While Hines Ward tweaked an ankle and got doinked in the second go-round with Baltimore, Jerricho did what he needed to do. He stepped up and caught 3 for 44 yards against the Ravens and added 2 more for 29 yards against Cinncinati including a 16-yard TD catch.
I know what the general thought out there is saying now. Hines is done, he’s in his 14th year and Father Time waits for no one. Cotchery is younger and ready to move “Old Yeller” to the 5th wideout position.
Though it was a reported “healthy” Hines Ward looking on from the sidelines in Cincy, nobody but Hines, Mike Tomlin and the medical staff know for sure. Such is the nature of injuries in the NFL these days.
If Hines had been the guy that had racked up Cotchery’s numbers on sunday, many would say that it was just another indicator that Hines was slowing down, not an indicator of a player on the rise. Two catches for 29-yards is just what a 3rd or 4th receiver would bag in the normal course of a game.
The real story is the emergence of Antonio Brown. His four catches on one drive in the 2nd quarter including hauling in a 21-yard pass on a 3rd and 19 was brilliant. The howitzer Ben launched at him on that 3rd down pass was thrown so hard i’m suprised Antonio has finger prints. But the man was on fire. And he deserves to have that fire fed in the future. With Manny Sanders re-habbing a knee, look for more from Brown.
As far as Hines is concerned, this man has been through so many battles, don’t ever count him out. Rare is the man of courage and strength, not to mention resilience that is Hines Ward. With six games remaining after the bye week, and hopefully a run deep into the playoffs, his number will be called upon again.
As Mike Tomlin said when questioned about Hines sitting out post Cinncinati;
“We were just looking at some personnel groups and looking at ways to attack these people. It may not be an indication of his participation moving forward. It’s just an indication of his participation today.”