Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward had an impressive rookie season after being the No. 4 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Ward was the Browns top cornerback from the moment he walked on the practice field, and finished the season as the second-best rookie cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus:
Denzel Ward finished the season with the second-highest grade both overall and in coverage among rookie CBs pic.twitter.com/o1NbKHS2A4— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 20, 2019
While that is the good news, the bad news is that Ward also missed three games, and parts of two others, after suffering a concussion against the Houston Texans on December 2 and again against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 23.
Which makes it seem a bit odd that he is planning to take the field on Sunday in Orlando for the most meaningless game on the NFL schedule - the annual Pro Bowl. But that is exactly what Ward plans to do, as he explained on Friday to the club’s in-house radio show, Cleveland Browns Daily (via ohio.com):
“I’ll get out there and just have some fun a little bit,. I don’t know how much I’ll play, though. But we’ll see. Just make sure I’m being safe for the upcoming season — that’s what my main focus is. But [I’m] definitely going to go out there, and whatever plays I do have, have fun with that.”
The Pro Bowl is not an all-out affair, of course, as no one wants to get hurt and the hitting is minimal. But given the concussion issue, we wouldn’t mind seeing Ward enjoy the experience from the sidelines on Sunday afternoon.
Ward is the sixth rookie in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl, according to ESPN, joining left tackle Joe Thomas (2007), linebacker Chip Banks (1983), running back Greg Pruitt (who made it as a kick returner in 1973), wide receiver Paul Warfield (1965) and running back Jim Brown (1957).
Ward is one of four Browns players on the Pro Bowl roster, joining wide receiver Jarvis Landry, left guard Joel Bitonio and defensive end Myles Garrett.
The Pro Bowl will be televised by ESPN on Sunday at 3 p.m.