Wide receiver Hines Ward knew the questions would be coming his way when the Steelers returned to practice following a 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, a game where Ward was not in the starting lineup and saw limited playing time.
He didn't shy away from answering them, making it clear that the most important thing that came from Sunday's game in Cincinnati was the team won.
"We won the game," said Ward when first asked about not playing. "That is the bottom line and keep moving on."
Ward, who is in his 14th season, did not start against the Bengals – the first time this season he hasn't started when healthy and a two wide receiver set has been utilized. He knew there were packages that could have him seeing less playing time, packages that were deployed in the game.
"We had two different packages with two receivers," said Ward, who was replaced by Antonio Brown in the starting lineup. "Antonio Brown and Mike (Wallace) were in on a package and me and Mike on a package. It was just a matter of those were the plays they were calling.
"It's not about me, it's about the team. There are stories to be written and stuff like that. We are 7-3 going into the bye week. I am going to continue being positive and keep going, keep working my butt off."
Ward missed the New England game with an ankle injury, returning against Baltimore only to exit early after getting hit by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Ward said his health was fine leading into the Bengals game.
"I am as healthy as the other guys in this locker room," said Ward. "I practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I was healthy. I am fine. I never made excuses for injury. I am practicing. If I get out there I give it all I can."
He was limited to just one reception for 10 yards in the game, but said he isn't concerned about what his role is moving forward.
"I am not worried," said Ward. "I have to continue being the same guy. When my number is called, continue making plays and continue being a leader on this team."
Ward admitted watching the offense from the sideline was something he wasn't used to, but his approach remained the same.
"It's a different role," said Ward. "I am still going to be the biggest cheerleader because I want to win. Whatever I can do to help this team win ball games – giving advice or when my number is called making a play. Just continue doing that and have a positive attitude.
"My confidence is high. I still believe in myself, probably more than most people. There is nothing I can do about it. I was in for a couple of plays. The one attempt I got I got 10 yards on it. I just have to continue being positive, continue working hard."
Ward needs just 19 receptions for 1,000 career receptions and 30 more yards for 12,000 career receiving yards. He is still hopes to reach those milestone numbers.
"I pray. I hope so," said Ward. "I am working my butt off to reach those goals. At the end of the day it's about winning .We are 7-3 going into our bye week. We have a chance to get guys back healthy and make a push the last six games."