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Veteran Tryout RB Jonathan Ward Stands Out at Rookie Minicamp

Pittsburgh Steelers veteran tryout running back Jonathan Ward impressed during his two days at the team’s rookie minicamp.

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Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jonathan Ward
Steelers tryout RB Jonathan Ward at rookie minicamp, May 10, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH —  If you are trying out at a rookie minicamp, whether you are a veteran or some undrafted free agent hoping to earn a contract, you must make yourself known as unique. The Steelers camp is not unique in that aspect. It seems like running back Jonathan Ward, who has been in the NFL since 2019, is doing that. Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner has liked Ward, and videos like this showcase why.

“The older you are, the less time you have in the league,” Ward said. “At the same time, it’s just football. Coming out and sharing the gems that I’ve picked up over the years with the younger guys, it’s just a blessing. And that also gives me an advantage too because you get a little bit of a player and a coach in the same aspect.”

According to Ward, Faulkner told him he had ‘old man hands’ after that strike. Ward is a 6-foot, 202-pound running back rom Kankakee, Illinois. A Central Michigan alum, he started his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2022. He played in 14 games as a rookie, mostly on special teams, and then another 13 games in Arizona in 2021, when he saw his first real offensive action, rushing for 33 yards on nine carries and catching three of four targets for 34 yards.

Ward noted that throughout the day, he lined up as a returner, gunner, and at the wing on special teams, so there is a lot of versatility in his game. That could earn him a contract if done correctly.

With Tennessee, Ward played in three games in 2022 rushing five times for 25 yards and catching two of three passes for seven yards while again playing a significant role on special teams. He bounced between the Titans practice squad and active roster in 2023, playing in seven games, again mostly on special teams. He totaled just 11 yards on three carries while on offense.

The Steelers have little depth behind their top three running backs, as Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren and Cordarrelle Patterson seem locked into place. Behind them, first-year back Aaron Shampklin out of Harvard and undrafted free agent Daijun Edwards out of Georgia represent the rest of the competition for Ward for a roster spot.

The Steelers have three open slots on their 90-man offseason roster, so they will have the ability to hand out some contracts to the numerous tryouts coming to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex with the conclusion of the three-day camp.

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