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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Derrick Ward comes to grips with situation, gets no slack from Raheem Morris

26

August

Running back Derrick Ward understands that there aren’t many things guaranteed in the NFL.

And that even includes his job.

Ward, who signed a four-year, $17 million deal as a free agent in 2009, didn’t live up to expectations last year and has struggled to make an impact this preseason. With Kareem Huggins impressing, Ward is in a battle the final two games for the second running back spot. As coach Raheem Morris said, Ward “has got to go out there and get it done, and better do it fast.”

“That’s the NFL, everybody’s job is up grabs, except if you’re Peyton Manning or Tom Brady,” Ward said. “It’s a year in, year out thing. You’ve just got to be prepared to go in there and if it’s your turn to get called on, it’s your turn. I remember in ’07, I was the fourth string running back and I became the first string running back after one injury. It depends on what you can do and what you can accomplish on the field.”

Ward, who rushed for 1,025 yards for the Giants in 2008, said “it’s all about what you do with your new team.” And after racking up just 409 yards last season, Ward has had a tough time in his first two preseason games. He fumbled twice in soggy conditions in Miami and, after guaranteeing he’d have a “great game” against the Chiefs, Ward gained 11 yards on just five carries before leaving with a mild concussion.
Though Ward said you can’t judge somebody on the preseason, he isn’t making excuses, and hasn’t lost any confidence.

Coach Raheem Morris, asksed about Ward's performance in 2009, said this:

"In ‘09 we weren’t a very good football team," Morris said. ". . . We all struggled. He was a guy that was a part of it. He went out there and he probably didn’t get the holes that he wanted. Whatever the reasons were – nobody cares. It is your job to go out there and get it done. That is the same thing I’d tell Sabby (Piscitelli). He feels bad about not being a starter. He feels bad because he feels like he was unjustly done, and nobody really cares. You got to out there and get it done and show us what you got. You only got one chance to do this thing, myself included."

Later, Morris expressed confidence Ward can return to his form of two years ago.

"He’s a pro, I still have a lot of belief in him,” Morris said. “He’s had a lot of success in this league, he’s been a 1,000 yard back in this league before. It’s something Huggins can’t say he’s done, something a lot of backs on this team can’t say they’ve done. You’ve got to let those guys compete."

As for Ward being out of shape, he reported to camp heavier but tried to downplay the impact of his conditioning.

"I'm good, I'm in great shape and I'm ready to go," he said.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 26, 2010 12:03pm]

    

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