Ward expected to play with sprained knee

One key benefit for the Steelers and Cardinals heading into Super Bowl XLIII is each team will have two full weeks to get healthy. For the Steelers, it could mean the difference between having or not having star WR Hines Ward.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin updated Ward’s status on Tuesday, describing his injury as a sprained right knee. Ward, who was injured during the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game and did not return, said immediately following the game (video) he “wouldn’t miss the Super Bowl for anything.”

Tomlin agreed with Ward’s self-assessment on Tuesday.

“In his mind, he’s playing,” Tomlin said. “So chances are, he is. … We’re definitely not going to count him out. We’re going to save a seat on the bus for No. 86.”

The Steelers came out of Sunday’s win in relatively healthy shape. Tomlin said RB Mewelde Moore (sprained right ankle), RG Darnell Stapleton (sprained ankle), LB Patrick Bailey (hamstring strain), C Justin Hartwig (knee) and LT Max Starks (knee sprain) are all expected to play. With two weeks to prepare, several of the players — especially Hartwig — might be limited early during this week’s practices.

Tomlin is keeping the Steelers on their normal routine (video) this week. He met with the Steelers on Monday, and is treating today as a “normal” Tuesday, meaning the players get their customary day off as the coaching staff begins to put together its game plan. The Steelers will hold three days of practices, as well as the usual Saturday walkthrough, and then travel to Tampa on Monday.

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