Ward, the all-time leading tackler for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been cleared for full contact drills, according to his agent, Brian Condon.
The move was expected after Ward posted an Instagram post on Thursday saying he would be participating in the team’s full contact drill next week, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Ward’s recovery from a torn ACL has been an issue for the Steelers, who lost safety Jairus Byrd to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 2.
Byrd’s injury was one of two in the league, and it has led to a string of injuries in the middle of the defense.
Ward is expected to play in his return, and Condon told the Associated Press that Ward is in “excellent spirits.”
The Steelers have yet to declare whether Ward will return for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
The team’s offseason program ends Wednesday, but it’s unclear if Ward will be available for the opener against the Falcons on Oct. 2.
Ward missed most of training camp due to a concussion suffered last November.
He played in five games in 2016 before suffering another concussion in Week 9, and he has been out since.
He missed the final two games of the season after suffering another knee injury in Week 3.
The Steelers also lost defensive end Mike Mitchell to a season-ending knee injury, and they were forced to cut linebacker Devon Kennard and defensive tackle James Harrison in the offseason.