Ward looking to fill niche at receiver

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens signed wide receiver Dedric Ward to a one-year contract Monday.

Ward is expected to bolster the Ravens' passing game, as well as their special teams. Ward, cut by New England at the close of training camp, said he signed a deal for the veteran minimum -- $655,000 for a player with seven years of NFL experience.

The Ravens (2-2) are in first place in the AFC North heading into Sunday's game against Arizona, but are averaging only 4.33 yards per passing attempt and 6.0 yards per punt return.

"It gives us some additional options return-wise," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Ward has 159 career receptions for 2,196 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's averaged 8.4 yards on punt returns and 14 yards on kickoff returns.

The Ravens waived cornerback Alvin Porter to sign Ward.

"I'm not coming in here to try to save the world," said Ward, who caught a late flight from Las Vegas on Sunday night after a successful tryout last Wednesday. "I realize they have a strong
chemistry, strong pieces of the puzzle and, hopefully, I can find a niche and complete the puzzle."

Ward was drafted in the third round by the New York Jets in 1997 out of Northern Iowa, and had his best season in 2000 when he had 54 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns.

Ward also played two seasons with Miami, catching 40 passes for 201 yards before being cut last winter. He was released by New England despite catching five passes for 100 yards in the Patriots'
exhibition finale.