NFL Notebook:Ward determined to play

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2009

Associated Press
The NFL notebook …
PITTSBURGH ó 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’s injury ó a sprained medial collateral ligament ó can sideline a player for an extended period.
“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.”
TORONTO ó New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said in an interview Wednesday that his rehabilitation from season-ending knee surgery was “going really well,” but he did not offer any timetable for a return to the football field.
ATLANTA ó Shane Dronett, who played 10 years in the NFL and started every game for the Atlanta Falcons’ 1998 Super Bowl team, was found dead at his home on Wednesday. He was 38.
According to a statement from the Gwinnett County police department, officers were called to Dronett’s home near Atlanta on Wednesday morning in response to a possible suicide. Police spokesman Illana Spellman confirmed Dronett’s body was found at the residence.
MOBILE, Ala. ó Chicago Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli apologized Wednesday for brushing off reporters at the Senior Bowl the day before by saying “Goodbye, ladies.”
Marinelli, recently fired as coach of the Lions after an 0-16 season, made the comment Tuesday when approached by members of the Detroit media in Mobile, Ala. The Association for Women in Sports Media expressed concern to the NFL and the Bears.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó Titans quarterback Kerry Collins will make his second Pro Bowl trip as a replacement for Brett Favre.
Philip Rivers of San Diego was the first alternate in the AFC. But it will be Collins as the second alternate joining Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler as the AFC’s quarterbacks in the Pro Bowl on Feb. 8.
Collins’ previous Pro Bowl trip was in 1996. He threw for 2,676 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. ó New Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz made his first major staff hire Wednesday, bringing in veteran assistant Gunther Cunningham, a 40-year NFL veteran, as defensive coordinator.