CB Denzel Ward (12.28.21)

On the expected atmosphere at Heinz Field on Monday night at Pittsburgh in what could be Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game:

“I think it is going to be a playoff atmosphere. That is the type of game that it is. We need to go in there and focus all on Pittsburgh, and we have to go in there and find a way to get a win. I know it is going to be a crazy atmosphere, though.”


On his memories playing against Roethlisberger, including recording two interceptions in his first NFL game against the Steelers:

“Yeah, my first rookie game, I remember going against (former Steelers WR) Antonio Brown and getting two interceptions on Ben so that would definitely be nice to repeat that next game. The main focus is going in, doing our job and trying to get a win.”


On the Browns remaining in playoff contention and the excitement about the opportunity during the final two weeks of the season despite needing some help from other games:

“Yeah, there is a lot of excitement, but the main thing is we have to take care of our business and do what we are supposed to do, and everything will take care of itself come the end of the year.”


On the Browns defense’s adjustments during the second half against the Packers:

“I think guys just tightening down, doing their job and making plays. That was it. Making plays that come to us. Those guys are obviously really good on that side of the ball. They made some plays, as well, but guys they stepped up and started making plays. Obviously, was not able to finish, but I think that is what it boiled down to.”


On S M.J. Stewart’s performance in recent weeks:

“M.J. has been stepping up big time. He has double-digit tackles, and he has been all over the field. He has been a great player for us, and we are going to need him this week, as well. He got an interception in the playoff game last year against Pittsburgh so hopefully, he can get another one.”


On the Browns defense’s performance in recent weeks despite players missing players due to COVID-19 or injury:

“That just shows you what type of guys we have in this room. We have a lot of depth on the team. We have guys who can step in, play right away and still make plays. There is not really any fall off with guys going out. Guys are just stepping up once they come in.”


On what the Browns need to improve in order to finish close games:

“Like I keep saying, it is just everybody doing their job. We just all have to do our job and make plays that come to us.”


On the Browns defense’s recent success in limiting opponents’ points and the difference from earlier in the season:

“I do not think there is much difference or that we have not found ourselves. We knew what type of defense we could be and team we were in camp and coming into the season. Guys are making plays, and they are being themselves. I do not think we are any different or anything like that, but guys are making plays and being who we are.”


On Stewart and Stewart’s biggest strengths:

“M.J., he is a good corner. He is physical. He is all over. He runs to the ball. His effort is off the charts on the field. He had double-digit tackles the past couple of games, and he has been everywhere. He is a versatile player. He is able to play the nickel in the inside. Sometimes they move him back to safety. He is able to play anywhere on the field.”


On how the team has bounced back after close losses in the past two weeks:

“We are focused on the next game. We are focused on Pittsburgh. That is the main focus. Just focus on the next game, and we have to find a way to get a win. That is the biggest thing.”


On if QB Baker Mayfield said anything to the team after last week’s loss to the Packers:



On how Mayfield has handled a challenging season:

“I think you have to ask him that. I think he is fine, but I think that is a question for him, not me.”


On how he personally handles close losses this season:

“We just have to find a way to finish, and that is the biggest thing. Guys have to do their job and make the plays that come to them. It is just all about finishing. We are in these close games. We just have to find a way to execute and make that one more play to get off the field or one more play to put our offense in better position. Just try to find a way to win.”


On if the Browns secondary has an opportunity to prove it wants to be and can be one of the premier secondaries in the NFL when healthy:

“Yeah, I believe so. You guys have seen it. When we are all together, we have definitely shown flashes of being one of those top defenses in the league. It is just about when we have our guys out there being consistent. I think we are definitely capable of being that type of defense.”


On receiving his second Pro Bowl accolade:

“It meant a lot. Is as much a credit to my coaches, my teammates and my family. Everybody played a big role in helping me get back to the Pro Bowl since my rookie year. It means a lot, and I am looking forward to representing Cleveland, participating in the game and everything that comes along with the Pro Bowl.”


On how he has grown as a player since making the Pro Bowl during his rookie season:

“I think definitely I am a smarter player. I definitely feel like I changed my body from my rookie season to now – gained some weight and put on a lot of muscle. Just trying to find a way to come in and help my team get better. I feel like I definitely made some changes to improve myself this season that we just had.”


On the impact of DE Myles Garrett playing through a groin injury:

“It means a lot. Everybody knows what type of player Myles is. We obviously would take a hurt Myles out there on the field or a healthy Myles, but we obviously want him to be healthy. If he is able to go, then good. If not, then we wish him to get healthy. Everybody knows what type of player Myles is, but it means a lot for him to be out there fighting throughout it and just trying to find a win. That is the biggest thing. I know [when] he is out there, he wants to win. He is a winner.”


On the Browns secondary’s depth with several players stepping up in recent weeks when their number was called to have larger roles in the defense:

“That is the biggest thing is I think we have a lot of depth. Obviously, it showed with M.J. Stewart coming in and able to step in. He has had double-digit tackles. We have a lot of guys who can play the game of football. They come in, do their job and step up.”


On watching Roethlisberger when he was growing up and playing high school or college football:

“I remember a lot. I used to watch those guys growing up, watching him and the play in the back of the end zone to (former Steelers WR) Santonio Holmes [in Super Bowl XLIII] and when guys were there like (Pro Football Hall of Fame and former Steelers S) Troy Polamalu and all of those guys. I have been watching these guys since I was little. It is definitely an honor to be able to take the field against Ben Roethlisberger since watching him when I was a kid and just compete against him. Definitely an honor.”


On having a ‘slow start’ to the season and if he was potentially pressing to make plays at times and then ultimately having a strong second half of the season:

“I think it depends on what you compare it to when you say I was off to a ‘slow start.’ I have not really given up too much out there on the field – anything like yards or touchdowns. It is depends on what you compare it to. I feel like I definitely picked it up throughout the season and raised my play. Those guys – (defensive coordinator) Coach (Joe) Woods and all of those guys – they challenged me, and I appreciate that. I accept the challenges that they bring to me. I just try to go out there and be the best player I can for this team.”


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