Cortland Finnegan is about to renew his battle with receiver Hines Ward when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on Sunday.
And even though their backgrounds are vastly different, the Titans defensive back and the Steelers star receiver are cut from the same cloth.
“He has a little nastiness, a little dog in him. I like that,” said Ward, who has a reputation for being the best blocking wide receiver in the NFL. “Every time I watch him, I kind of smile. We are still competitors. We are going to go out there and compete and at the end of the game shake hands and wish each other good luck and go on about our business.
“ I love everything about Cortland, his little tenacious defense. He is always going after guys in run block or passing and whatever. I remember the one game we played down there, I scored a touchdown and he laid a pretty good hit on me. He is a little feisty guy.”
Finnegan seems genuinely humbled that Ward has such an appreciation for the way he plays the game, and he said that he aspires to have something that Ward garnered last year - to be voted the NFL's Dirtiest Player. That is bestowed by Sports Illustrated based on a preseason poll taken among teams every year. Finnegan was No. 6 on the 2009 list.
“It’s a compliment. That’s absolutely a compliment,” Finnegan said. “He was voted the league’s dirtiest player, so you’ve got to give it up for him. For someone to say something as nice as that, I appreciate it. I’m number [six] right now, but I’m aspiring to one day hopefully be No. 1. So, I appreciate it.”