Denzel Ward is entering his sixth season with the Cleveland Browns, but the cornerback sees this season’s team as different from others.
“I think so,” Ward said the Cleveland press staff on Saturday when asked if this was the most talented Browns roster he’s been a part of. “I definitely believe that from the moment I came in. But like I said before, you can have a lot of talent, but you just have to put it together and put all those pieces together. So that’s what we’re doing and focusing on making it happen.”
The Browns are coming off a 7-10 season that featured quarterback chaos. After acquiring star QB Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans in March 2022, he was suspended 11 games after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light. Jacoby Brissett started the first 11 games of the season for Cleveland, which went 3-3 thereafter under Watson.
Cleveland had a very active offseason. They signed defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson ($57 million, four-year deal) and safety Juan Thornhill ($21 million, three-year deal), acquired defensive end and three-time pro bowler Za’Darius Smith from the Minnesota Vikings, and acquired wide receiver and former No. 34 overall pick Elijah Moore from the New York Jets. In Night 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, Cleveland selected Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (No. 74) and Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika (No. 98).
Ward, a two-time Pro Bowler, had three interceptions, 15 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries, which he returned for touchdowns, last season. He was part of a Cleveland secondary and defense that gave up just 196.2 passing yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL. Ward and superstar defensive end Myles Garrett have been among Cleveland’s defensive lynchpins for the past half-decade.
Ward feels the secondary is a strong point for the Browns, who have a new defensive coordinator in Jim Schwartz.
“I would definitely say man-on-man is one of our strengths,” Ward said. “We have a lot of talent in the room and a lot of guys who could do a lot of things, but I will definitely say man-on-man is one of our advantages.”
The Browns selected Ward with the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. He is entering the first season of a five-year, $100.5 million contract. Cleveland has made the playoffs once (2020) in Ward’s five seasons with them.
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