Derrick Ward, slated to start this Sunday against the Cowboys, was the 234th selection by the New York Jets back in 2004. The New York Giants signed him off the Jets' practice squad later in 2004 and was invisible for the next three seasons. Then came 2007.
After Tiki Barber's retirement, Derrick Ward became the No. 2 running back behind Brandon Jacobs. From the start of the 2007 season, Ward showed his versatility for running and catching the football.
Ward averaged over 100 yards of total offense the first month of the season, but then a combination of knee and ankle injuries made him miss five of the next eight games. By Week 13, he was healthy enough to start against the Chicago Bears with Brandon Jacobs out with a knee injury.
Against the Bears, Ward did not look like a man coming off an injury. Ward finished the game with 183 total yards (154 rushing, 29 receiving) and one touchdown. Unfortunately, Ward also suffered a broken leg and missed the rest of the season, including the historic Super Bowl run.
Ward's final numbers from 2007: 602 rushing yards, 179 receiving yards, three touchdowns.
Ward has only started one other game in 2008, which was against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. Ward finished with 99 total yards and one touchdown.
What makes Sunday Night so important for Ward is not only because he's starting against the Cowboys, but the fact that he will be on national television and probably playing for his last NFL contract.
Ward will be 29 next year, one year away from the magic age of 30, and the Giants have already stated Brandon Jacobs is their future. A big game against the rival Cowboys can be a huge building block towards a big pay day come the off season.
Ward's numbers so far in 2008: 669 rushing yards, 373 receiving yards, two touchdowns. Good for over 1,000 yards of total offense so far.