Ward practices despite MCL sprain

TAMPA, Fla. -- Wide receiver Hines Ward took part in his first full-scale practice since injuring his right knee in the AFC Championship Game when the Pittsburgh Steelers worked out Thursday for their Super Bowl matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

Ward did not run at full speed as he recovers from a sprained right medial collateral ligament but worked with the starting offense throughout a rainy practice at the University of South Florida. The Steelers worked out for nearly two hours despite rain that fell hard for 20 minutes and persisted for 45 minutes.

Ward looked "awesome," according to coach Mike Tomlin, and is expected to play Sunday night. Ward was the only regular listed on the Steelers' injury report this week.

"He is where I thought he would be today," Tomlin said.

Tomlin denied any injury problem with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who appeared to be stretching his mid-torso region throughout the Steelers' second practice of the week.

According to a Pro Football Writers Association of America pool reporter who watched practice -- no other reporters were allowed -- Roethlisberger threw effectively on both long and short routes, including a 40-yard throw to wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Roethlisberger was drilled in the back by a helmet during the AFC title game against the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 18 and did not leave the game, although backup Byron Leftwich hurriedly warmed up.

Both the starting offense and defense worked against the scout teams, as usual during a Steelers Thursday practice, with the offense spending time operating inside the 20-yard line.

Leftwich imitated Kurt Warner while running the scout team offense against the defense, with Dallas Baker filling the role of Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.