Hines Ward checks out Express camp
By Dylan Rubino, Memphis Express Team Reporter
SAN ANTONIO – The wide receivers and defensive backs seemed to have extra motivation and energy at day five of Memphis Express training camp at the Star Soccer Complex Thursday afternoon.
Hines Ward, the head of football development for The Alliance, and former All-Pro NFL wide receiver, took time to check out the Express and say hello to head coach Mike Singletary and his staff.
As the wideouts caught passes down the sidelines during drills, the players were chirping at Ward in hopes to be recognized by the former Pittsburgh Steelers great. Ward smiled back at those players and took it all in.
“I get that a lot when I go to these practices. All these receivers making catches are looking over at me to make sure I saw that catch,” Ward said with a laugh. “It’s an opportunity man. It’s good to see those guys out there making plays.”
Ward stayed around for the first half of practice and made sure to meet with coach Singletary to see what’s going on with his team. The two former NFL greats talked for a good bit and caught up about The Alliance and the Express.
“It’s nice to be able to chat with him and talk about the league and how we’re doing,” Singletary said. “It was good. It’s always good to see him.”
The wide receivers quickly took notice on Ward attending camp Thursday afternoon to try and impress him. The position group had an extra pep in their step and made sure to make a great play throughout 11-on-11 drills.
“He was one of the main receivers I looked up to growing up,” wide receiver Reece Horn said. “I’ll never forget when he came back on a peel block and literally cracked some guys jaw. Having him here watching definitely adds a little pressure.”
The relationship between Ward and Singletary goes back to when Ward was playing with the Steelers and Singletary was a coach in the league. The two have been adversaries in the NFL, but now are part of the same team in The Alliance and Ward admires the way Singletary coaches his team.
“It’s the attention to detail. It’s a representation of what coach Singletary is all about,” Ward said. “Guys are very disciplined and very big on technique.”
Ward is thankful to have head coaches like Singletary, Steve Spurrier and other veteran coaches teaching the players and giving them the best opportunity to succeed at the professional level.
“It’s great for the players being able to be coached and mentored by guys who have had success at all levels,” Ward said. “I hope they keep asking them questions every day about how I can get better and how to improve. Just pick their brains. It’s about football.”
The Memphis Express opens its season on February 10 with a visit to The Birmingham Iron. The Memphis Express opens its home schedule on February 16 hosting the Arizona Hotshots. Get tickets here. https://aaf.com/memphis-express/tickets/