Running back Derrick Ward, an important contributor to the Giants' 2007 championship season, re-signed with the team on Friday.
Ward was the Giants' second-leading rusher last season, when he ran for 602 yards on 125 carries (a 4.8-yard average) and three touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes –- the fourth-highest total on the team –- for 179 yards and another score. Ward helped keep the running game going when Brandon Jacobs suffered injuries to his knee in September and hamstring in November.
Ward's season ended early, ironically in the same game in which he rushed for a career-high 154 yards, on Dec. 2 in Chicago. Midway through the fourth quarter, Ward suffered a fractured left fibula on a four-yard run on which he picked up an important first down. Two days later, Ward was placed on injured reserve. He missed the remainder of the regular season and the Giants' four-game postseason title run.
"We are glad to have Derrick back in our stable of running backs, which will create some real competition at that position," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He brings a lot to the table as a runner, receiver, kick returner and cover specialist."
Ward was a free agent who investigated elsewhere, but his heart wasn't it in.
The 2008 season will be Ward's fifth in the NFL and fourth with the Giants. Prior to last season, he had just 35 rushing attempts for 123 yards -- all in 2005. He had played in 27 games but never started one. But in 2007, Ward started five of the eight games in which he played. He missed four games in the middle of the season with ankle and groin injuries, then the final four plus the playoffs because of his broken leg.
"It was hard sitting out," Ward said. "It's been my dream since I was a little kid to play in the Super Bowl. I wasn't able to play in it because of my injury, but I felt I helped the team enough to get us there. It was a win-win situation for me."
Ward said his leg is "100 percent." He will be ready for the start of the offseason conditioning program on March 31.
In 2005, Ward played in 14 games, primarily on special teams and as a reserve running back. His 123 rushing yards were the Giants' second-highest total and his 16 special teams tackles placed him fifth on the team.
Ward's 2006 season got off to a bad start when he fractured his foot in training camp. The injury forced him to miss the first six games of the season. He played in eight games, averaging 20.3 yards on 23 kickoff returns before re-injuring the foot at Philadelphia on Dec. 17. Ward was then placed on injured reserve.
Ward entered the NFL as the Jets' seventh-round draft choice (the 235th overall selection) in 2004. At Ottawa University in Kansas, Ward set NAIA single-season records with 2,061 rushing yards, 28 touchdowns and 7.8 yards per carry.