The next three weeks could define Derrick Ward’s NFL future.
It was only a year ago that Ward entered the preseason as a targeted free agent pickup from the Giants, coming off a 1,025-yard season. With Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham rebounding from serious injuries, the Bucs spent big bucks bringing Ward in with hopes he would provide steady production in the backfield.
It hasn’t happened.
Ward became an afterthought in 2009 after Williams proved he had overcome two torn patellars and his effort Saturday night at Miami has Ward clearly in the spotlight before the games count, starting with the Sept. 12 opener against Cleveland.
GM Mark Dominik has a lot invested in Ward, besides the big contract. Releasing or trading Ward would be an acknowledgement that Tampa Bay made a mistake, but the Bucs have vowed to go with their best 53 players coming out of camp.
Right now, Kareem Huggins looks like the better running back and Caddy is 100 percent healthy.
Ward has a lot of ground to make up and little time to do it.
This would definitely increase the value of Caddy Williams heading into the season. Ward didn't produce last year, but earlier head coach Raheem Morris said he would use the "hot back." While Huggins and Graham would possibly get more carries, it seems like Caddy would be in store for a big workload.