Ward fast despite foot injury

DeKALB – Jimmie Ward wanted to show pro scouts he could run with NFL skill position players.

The former Northern Illinois safety didn’t get that chance at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, as a foot fracture sidelined him in Indianapolis.

Ward’s foot still actually isn’t fully healthy – he’ll have surgery on it next week, and said recovery from the injury will be anywhere from four to eight weeks.

He still got his shot to work out at NIU’s pro day Friday in front of a large group of NFL scouts, and the foot didn’t seem to bother Ward, who unofficially ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the Chessick Center.

Ward’s time would have ranked him second among safeties at the combine. Florida State’s Terrance Brooks had the top mark in Indianapolis, running a 4.42.

“All the teams wanted to see how fast I am,” Ward said. “Some people were saying 4.59 to 4.6. I’m like, ‘Wow, I covered Dri Archer. Dri Archer ran a 4.2.’ Basically, I wanted to show that I can run a 4.4.”

Ward, who led the Huskies with 95 tackles and seven interceptions in 2013 and was named a third-team All-American by The Associated Press, was scheduled to work out with the defensive backs Feb. 25 at Lucas Oil Stadium. He said he didn’t feel the foot injury and noted that it didn’t start aching until after the combine. He wanted to work out and sign a waiver, but wasn’t allowed to.

“It was disappointing, but it’s all a mindset thing,” Ward said. “I had to get back right for pro day.”

Ward interviewed with NFL teams at the combine, and was doing interviews for more than an hour Friday.

ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has Ward as the third-best safety in the draft, behind Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Ward is a second-round pick.

Naturally, Ward was asked about his draft prospects.

“I hear a lot of stuff. I try not to pay attention,” Ward said. “But if you wanted me to give you a guess, I’d say first three rounds.”

Ward was listed at 192 pounds this past year, but said he weighed in at 197 on Friday. He said he’s going to keep working out leading up to the draft.

“I feel like the process just got started,” Ward said. “It’s OK, it’s nothing compared to what rookie year I feel is going to be like.”