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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Raheem Morris admits Derrick Ward not thrilled with role



When the Bucs acquired running back Derrick Ward in the offseason, signing him to a four-year, $17 million contract, it was presumed Ward would have a pivotal role with the team.

But in reality, it hasn't worked out like that.

Cadillac Williams' emergence, Ward's knee injury two weeks ago and the offense's futility have combined to limit Ward's role significantly. After Ward touched the ball just twice on Sunday against the Panthers, even coach Raheem Morris had to concede this probably isn't going over well with the team's free-agent prize.

"I know he’s about winning," Morris said of Ward. "I’m sure he’s not going to be comfortable with that."

But Morris was careful to point out that it's been more a matter of bad breaks for Ward rather than a case of coaches opting not to use him.

"When he got his first series (against Carolina) and he mishandled that pitch, then he got in on the next series, he touched the ball one time when we threw it to him in the flat," Morris said. "We got behind there in the (down and distance) and threw it the next two times. The next two series were Cadillac's, so we went out there and played with Cadillac. On Derrick’s next series, we threw an interception and he got the wrong end of the stick."

In five games -- he missed one with the injury -- Ward has 33 carries for 135 yards. That's an average of 6.6 carries per game, certainly fewer than he envisioned when he arrived in Tampa Bay. This comes after he rushed for 1,025 yards with the Giants last season, his first 1,000-yard season.

To be clear, Ward has not made any public statements or complaints about his role. But his situation is just another example of how a team's misfortunes can impact an individual player's stock as well.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:46pm]


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