PITTSBURGH (AP) -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.
ions 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.
s 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.''
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