Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward quickly put the NFL on notice last season as he intercepted a pair of passes in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
By the end of his rookie season, Ward had been selected to the Pro Bowl, the first Browns rookie to earn that honor since Joe Thomas in 2007.
Ward will be the cornerstone of Cleveland’s secondary heading into his second season, which may be even better than his rookie campaign thanks to what is to come at training camp.
The offseason acquisition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. should help the team’s offense join the league’s best, but it will also help elevate Ward’s play as he will line up against Beckham on a regular basis during training camp.
Ward, who hosted a youth football camp at Nordonia High School on Friday, talked about what is sure to be a highlight of training camp with Nate Ulrich of ohio.com:
“I love going against Odell, someone who’s going to compete, and he’s going to get me ready for the games. We have a lot of conversations. I told him he’s going to be one of the reasons my game goes to the next level. I definitely enjoy [the competition], and [I’m] looking forward to going against him more and Jarvis [Landry] and a lot of those receivers.
“We’re still on the same team, so we’re going to get each other better, get the team better. So we’re going to talk and communicate on maybe when someone may not have done as well or done good and work that way. So I definitely enjoy that from him.”
This is another example of how different units on a team can connect to make everyone better. Just as a strong secondary helps a defensive line by giving it more time to get after the quarterback, a talented wide receiver group can help the secondary raise its game.
The Browns have one of the league’s best wide receivers in Beckham. After a summer of going up against each other every day in practice, the team may find itself with one of the league’s top cornerbacks as well in Ward.