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News » Ward-Finnegan a physical matchup


Ward-Finnegan a physical matchup


Ward-Finnegan a physical matchup
sports@timesfreepress.com


NASHVILLE -- LP Field will be in the spotlight today as the Tennessee Titans host the Pitsburgh Steelers with home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs at stake.

But two players certainly worth an especially close look as they square off individually are Steelers receiver Hines Ward and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan.

Ward, listed as 6-foot and 205 pounds, is one of the most aggressive and best blocking receivers in the NFL. Earlier this season, he broke the jaw of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers on a block.

"With Hines, you've definitely got to keep your head on a swivel. He's going to come after you," Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said, echoing previous Ward comments. "He's physical when he has the ball, and he's physical without the ball. He's the type of Football player you would want on your team.

"He's going to bring it, talk the talk and walk the walk and try and take people out. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played."

And the 5-10, 188-pound Finnegan, who was named to the Pro Bowl last Tuesday and fined $25,000 by the league Thursday for two personal-foul hits last Sunday at Houston, isn't the type to back down from contact or tough talk.

Earlier this season at Baltimore, Finnegan squared off with former Titan Derrick Mason, another feisty type of player, reaching the point that Bulluck gave Finnegan a shove to try to calm him down between plays.

So what happens when Ward and Finnegan line up across from each other at the line of scrimmage? There probably will be some trash talking and plenty of hard hits to go around.

"I don't know. We'll see on Sunday," Finnegan said before the weekend. "I would assume it's going to be all you can eat on words and definitely on play. I guess it's going to be a fun time. He's definitely a great player I look up to. So it's going to be fun for the both of us."

The matched-up players said they have never met each other but respect the type of game the other plays.

"He's a great player, there's no question," Ward said. "He brings a lot of attitude towards the game, and he's a Pro Bowl player, which is well deserved. It's just going to be another matchup, another challenge for us receivers as we step out on the field."

Finnegan knows he is in for perhaps his biggest challenge this season, at least from a physical standpoint.

"We've got to bring our big-boy pads this week," Finnegan said. "They're a really good Football team. Hines Ward, for myself, that's something I really look forward to. He's a great receiver."

Ward respects Finnegan's skills as well.

"I mean, he made the Pro Bowl for a reason," Ward said, "and I'm sure the reason wasn't because he was hitting guys and getting penalties. He's definitely had a great year this year and is playing well."

Bulluck said he thinks Finnegan will keep his emotions in check.

"I think that Cort has a good sense of how to keep himself in control, because if you thought Derrick Mason was a handful, Hines Ward will definitely give you everything that you want," Bulluck said. "I think Cortland is aware of that, and he'll be prepared for that matchup on Sunday. As feisty or whatever ... Cortland is, Hines is times 10."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 21, 2008

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