Defense will be a cornerstone for the Cleveland Browns this season, mainly the Browns’ secondary.
While the front line has Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, the backfield is relying on Denzel Ward.
However, Ward’s health has been an issue during his time with the Browns.
The former first-round pick is coming off an injury scare in June where he hurt his foot during minicamp.
But luckily for both him and the Browns, the MRI showed no serious injury to his foot.
Source confirms that #Browns Denzel Ward's MRI revealed "nothing too serious" after he walked off the field with trainers during the last day of minicamp at FirstEnergy Stadium yesterday, pointing at his foot/ankle. I'm told he's not expected to miss much time, if any.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 17, 2022
While he dodged a bullet for now, his health is key for the Browns if they want to stay competitive in 2022.
Concussions And Hamstring Injury Have Sidelined Ward In The Past
Ward’s rookie season saw him suffer two concussions that would force him to miss three games that season.
With concussions being a serious injury in the NFL, it’s worrisome anytime a player has suffered multiple ones in a short time.
The 2 outside CBs are Denzel Ward & Greedy Williams. Denzel Ward has had multiple concussions and hasn't been healthy for a full season . Greedy missed all of 2020 with a nerve injury. Doctors told him the nerve damage would never fully heal.
— Doug Salvatore (@DougieSal) April 29, 2021
However, Ward hasn’t suffered anymore concussions since that 2018 season.
But he suffered a hamstring injury in 2019 that would cause him to miss one game.
While the injuries haven’t kept him out of too many games, they can become a lingering issue.
His team needs him at 100%, as their secondary has mostly young and unproven talent.
He’s the unofficial leader of that secondary in 2022, meaning the pressure is on him to remain healthy.
Ward Is Key To A Browns Team Facing AFC North Teams That Pass
When you face Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow, the deep ball is always a threat on the table.
Currently, Ward is the Browns’ best option for stopping that deep ball threat.
Last season, receivers he defended were targeted 71 times, with him allowing 44 completions.
He also had 34 solo tackles, which was right behind safety John Johnson III last year.
His three interceptions also tie him for the most by a Browns player last year, with Johnson being the other player who got three as well.
However, Ward has the most experience of the two players.
He’s also the first line of defense with defending the pass.
If he fails, it would be up to Johnson to back him up.
But failure isn’t an option the Browns can afford against tough AFC North quarterbacks.
Can Ward Have A Breakout Season In 2022?
The former fourth overall pick from 2018 has pressure on him to have that breakout season this year.
With the possibility of Deshaun Watson missing the season, the Browns will need their defense to keep games close.
Last season he showed a flash of how he can take it to the house after picking off the quarterback.
I agree there. We need to let them eat the QB from our opponent & we need to be studs out there. We did a nice number on Joe Burrow today & had some nice interceptions. That pick-6 from Denzel Ward was freaking amazing!!!!
— John S. (@JNS_Photos) November 8, 2021
He’ll need more of the same if he wants to show fans he can have a breakout season.
While 2021 was a step in the right direction, improving on that is now paramount.
With Clowney and Garrett handing the running game and pressuring the QB, it’s on Ward to deflect or interception any passes coming his way.
Those two can cause the mistakes that Ward can capitalize on in 2022 to have a breakout season.
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