Ward, the number four overall pick in last April’s NFL Draft, is expected to be a starting cornerback in his inaugural season as a professional football player. The selection of the former Ohio State Buckeye came as a surprise, but cornerback was a huge need for the Browns this off season.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) July 26, 2018
Ward has held his own after four days of training camp. It’s a start to his goal of becoming an elite cornerback in the league. Can he eventually fulfill that dream?
“I am new to the league so I do not think that I can really answer that,” Ward said. “I just have to find out what I can get better at every single day and stay in the playbook and keep learning.”
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) July 30, 2018
Ward has to listen to the advice of his veteran teammates in the Browns secondary. It’s all part of the process toward learning the pro game.
“They have been teaching me a lot, especially guys like Damarious Randall,” Ward said. “Even off of the field, he has been helping me with the playbook and learning. Just everything like giving me tips out on the field when I do something wrong or need help with something.”
“I wanted to come out here and compete."
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) July 28, 2018
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and head coach Hue Jackson have challenged Ward so far in training camp. The coaches have lined Ward up against number one wide receiver Jarvis Landry at times. The reason, to prepare Ward to face the leagues best receivers, including the Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on opening day. Ward has responded to the challenge so far.
“Playmaking ability, and you said it, the game is not too big for him,” Jackson said. “Those moments are not too big for him. I think he makes plays in those situations, the pressure situation. That is what you are going to have to do. He is going to face some of the best receivers in the league. Think of the first game of the year. He is playing against Antonio Brown, the best guy on the planet. You better have really thick skin. He has that, and I think his teammates see that, but he has a lot of work to do between now and then.”
“I am very comfortable with who I am as a man and as a player,” Ward said. “Those guys are elite players, great guys and great players, but we all put our shoes and pants on the same way. Just come out here and work.”
There is a lot of work to do as a rookie in the NFL. So far, the work has been productive for kid playing for his hometown team.
Scott Piker is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Browns.