Derrick Ward announced his retirement Monday in a tweet, thanking his fans for their support: “To all my fans just wanted to let u know its been a great ride the last 9yrs but I’m calling it a career. I thank u all for believing in me!” Ward spent his final two seasons in the league with the Houston Texans.
Ward was used sparingly as a running back his rookie season, but in five games he had 16 kick returns for 436 yards and a touchdown.
Ward’s breakout season came in 2007 when he rushed for 602 yards and three scores in only eight games. Ward missed four games due to ankle and groin injuries, and his season was cut short in December when he broke his leg in the fourth quarter in a matchup with the Chicago Bears. Prior to the Bears game Ward was leading the Giants in rushing.
In 2008 Ward was one-third of a running back-by-committee attack nicknamed Earth (Brandon Jacobs), Wind (Ward), and Fire (Ahmad Bradshaw) that was incredibly productive. The three-headed monster rushed for over 2,400 yards and 18 touchdowns, with Ward and Jacobs each rushing for over 1,000 yards. Unfortunately Earth, Wind, and Fire was a one-hit wonder.
Ward was not re-signed by the Giants after the 2008; instead he was signed to a four-year $17 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 2009. Ward joined Cadillac Williams in the backfield, but the duo could not replicate the success of the Giants’ ground rotation; Ward and Williams combined for just over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns. When the 2009 season ended so did Ward’s time with the Bucs.
In September 2010 Ward signed with the Houston Texans, appearing in all 16 games for a total of 315 rushing yards and finding the end zone four times. Last season Ward started the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts in place of an injured Arian Foster. Sadly for Ward, Ben Tate handled the majority of the carries, dazzling Space City in the win over Indy, and quickly moved to Foster’s backup on the depth chart. Ward played in a total of 12 games in 2011, mustering up 154 yards and two scores in 45 attempts.
Ward became a free agency at the end of the season, and tweeted last month he was not re-signed by the Texans.
In his career Ward rushed for 2,628 yards and 12 touchdowns in 551 attempts and recorded 96 receptions for 787 yards and three scores. Ward had 40 returns for 923 yards and a touchdown in his three seasons returning kicks for the Giants (2004, 2006, 2008).
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