Now that training camp is officially underway for the Cleveland Browns, it’s time for head coach Kevin Stefanski and his staff to get a realistic sense of the team’s roster and its true capabilities and potential.
Offensively, it’s clear what they will be.
Whenever Deshaun Watson plays, the team is capable of putting points on the board, both by passing the ball and by keeping it on the ground between running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, especially if its offensive line stays healthy.
Defensively, the front seven looks solid, but there are some questions about the backfield.
One question surrounds the health of cornerback Denzel Ward, who recently suffered a foot injury.
He is reportedly still in a walking boot, and the Browns have placed him on the active/physically unable to perform list for the first day of camp.
How concerned should Browns fans be about Ward moving forward?
Ward’s Injury Doesn’t Seem To Be Serious
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Wednesday that he expects Ward to be ready to play again within “the next couple weeks.”
#Browns HC Kevin Stefanski on Denzel Ward's foot injury: "Denzel is working through it. I'm confident in the next couple weeks, he'll be out there."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) July 27, 2022
If there is ever a time a team wants to have injuries happen (if they have to happen), it is now during the start of training camp.
Yes, Ward won’t get very many reps in the weeks ahead, but he is getting to the point of his career where, as long as he gets some action in camp or at least in preseason games, he could be fine for Week 1.
He is going into his fifth season, and he is part of the promising young core that executive Andrew Berry has put together over the last few years.
Ward, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and last season as well.
He is considered one of the game’s better corners, and in fact, former corner and current journalist Bucky Brooks recently said Ward is the second-best cornerback in the NFL, behind only the Los Angeles Rams’ Jalen Ramsey.
— NFL (@NFL) May 31, 2022
Unfortunately, Ward has had some issues with injuries throughout his career so far, as he is yet to play every single game in a season.
His health will be a key to Cleveland possibly becoming an elite defensive team across the board this year.
The Browns’ Secondary Has Potential
Along with Ward, the Browns possess Greg Newsome II, another cornerback who is going into his second season and is thought to have promise.
He ranked fifth according to Pro Football Focus in single coverage situations in 2021.
Highest graded CBs in single coverage.. (PFF)
1. Jalen Ramsey, 90.1
2. JC Jackson, 88.2
3. Denzel Ward, 85.2
4. AJ Terrell, 78.7
5. Greg Newsome, 73.6 pic.twitter.com/nP8ZwaP1te
— Adam Carter (@SmartfootbalI) February 9, 2022
In addition, safety Grant Delpit, who is also coming off his rookie year, is another prospect the Browns and their fans have high hopes for.
With Deshaun Watson’s likely suspension still hanging over the team, it will likely need to win the old-fashioned way this season: with physicality and defense.
It will be ugly, but style points do not matter when you win, and Cleveland fans are the type who do not care about style points as long as victory happens.