CB Denzel Ward (6.12.24)

It’s almost over, what have you taken out of this offseason program this year? 

“What have I taken out of this offseason program? I mean, we just really came in and continued to build on top of what we had last year and building the camaraderie, learning the system and the playbook again and just getting around the guys, getting our footwork back out there on the field, working our technique. So, it’s really like coming here, starting back to basics really.” 


When we talked to Jim Schwartz, he talked about last year, he used the baseball analogy ‘You guys were focused on the fastball’ and this year, like, working on the off-speed pitches, you’re putting in different wrinkles and things like that. Not asking to give anything away, but just how extensive are some of those wrinkles and how much do you think that is going to help elevate you guys on that side of the ball even further than you were a year ago? 

“Yeah, I think it’s going to elevate us a lot. Like you said, we already got our playbook in from last year, but he added a few more wrinkles in there, a few more plays, and just playing off things that we already do out there. And I think it’s going to be some good additions to our team that I think is going to help us out there on the defensive side of the ball.” 


Denzel, so you’re in this stage of your career, you’ve been in the Pro Bowl three times, been on this team forever, it seems. And yet you were at OTAs, I think, every single year. Why is that important to you? Why was it important for you to go through that? 

“Yeah, because I think the Browns, they drafted me to be on this team. They drafted me to be a leader on this team, and that’s the way that I show my leadership – coming to OTAs, regardless of if I’m here, I’m a rookie, or if I’m a veteran in the league, I just try to come in and help show the guys what it’s supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to go and if they got questions. But I’m still out here working on my game as well, and I mean, what better way than to come out here and do that with your guys and your coaches and everything? So just out here learning, out here trying to get better, but just trying to set a great example.” 


So, do you think that example is having an impact on a guy like (Martin) Emerson? 

“Oh, yeah, I think so. I think so. I think it brings us all together, brings us all in, and they see a veteran like myself come in. I think they look like, ‘Okay, if he’s in here, I probably should come back as well and get some work in with everybody.’ So, I just try to set a great example, and those guys, they teach me as well. So, it’s not just myself that’s out there just trying to coach them up or be the lead person, but I mean they coach me up as well, and we help each other out.” 


When you look at as a team last year, what could you guys have done better defensively?  

“What could we have done? I mean, nobody’s perfect, it’s a lot of things. I mean, you could go to every game and say things that we could have done better. It really just depends on the game and the situation, but whether that’s technique wise or knowing where we’re supposed to be at the right time and executing that, so it really just depends on the game and situation.” 


You guys have got playmakers all over that defense, but it really feels like 95 (Myles Garrett) sets the tone. How much do you guys feed off of what Myles does? 

“Myles? Oh, man, we feed up. We expect Myles to be Myles, and he comes out he does that every single day, rushing the passer, getting to that quarterback, and just causing havoc for us in that backfield. So, when we got Myles up there making plays like that, it makes everybody else job easier.” 


I know you talked about how you guys started building off of what you did last year. He’s (Myles Garrett) coming now off the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. What’s next for him, do you think? 

“I think y’all asked him that, but, I mean, I know he’s a Hall of Fame type player, and I know he’s working towards that, striving towards that every day. So, I mean, we just trying to chase him and continue to be great right along with him.” 


You guys kind of came in together as young guys how much how do you feel at that transition to veteran? Do you feel old yet? 

“I don’t feel old, personally. It is crazy. That’s why I be telling him all the time, like time be flying, man. Like he just said, feel like I’ve been here for a long time. I have, though. So going on year seven I believe it is, but just growing with Myles and growing out there with this, with the Browns organization, it’s been fun and just looking to keep it going and keep building and achieving our goals.” 


How does urgency increase as you guys get older? 

“Urgency to do what?” 


To go get a ring. 

“Yeah, I mean, it’s always early. You want to win every time you step out there on the field. So, I mean, that’s the goal. You want to win the day, win the practice, and win every moment that you’re in. So, it’s always urgent to get a win.” 


Coach (Kevin Stefanski) said yesterday how Myles raised his hand and how he wanted to be involved in the kickoff rule. 

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing Myles out there, too. So, let’s see if he’s going to be out there first kickoff. I’m looking forward to that.” 


I know that it’s not your specialty in special teams, but to see a lot of skill players, the whole idea of it has completely changed, would you ever want to be involved in it? 

“I want to be involved, and whatever phase my coaches need me at, I’m willing to go out there and do it. So, whatever, helps us win the game. You’ll see me out there.” 


I wanted to go back to Emerson. He seems to be soaking up everything he can from you. You’ve worked out with him, right? 

“Yes, actually. Yeah, Martin, he’s been following me everywhere this offseason, so he actually came out and trained and stayed with me. He lived with me out in Florida, and we worked out every single day together, and we’re just working our techniques and everything, lifting and getting better. So, he’s been on my hip.” 


What do you see in his (Martin Emerson Jr.) third year? His development? 

“Yeah, he’s a special player. Got high talent, physical player, tall. I mean, he got the capability of achieving a lot of things in his league. Being an All-Pro type of player and a number one corner.” 


We’ve seen during practices, Coach (Jim)Schwartz, and even your DBS coach , he’ll pull you guys off to the side, and you’re able to watch clips on the screen and just have that in practice film session. Just how helpful is that to you guys? 

“Yeah, it’s helpful. So, like I said, we go through the plays out there on the field, and if it’s something we might mess up on or do well on, we go back and watch it real fast on the film board, and he just coaches up on there and what we could do better and what we see and what he sees. 


Was it your idea or Martin’s idea for him to go to Florida this week? 

“That’s a good question. I think. I think it was kind of both. I made it open to those guys. You guys ever want to come out and train with me or stay with me, anything, you can come and do that. And he took that on. And he said he wanted to come stay with me and train with me out there.  


So, is he the only one? 

“Out in Florida, yeah that came and trained with me.” 


What do you think you taught him? What do you think he learned from being with you all the time? 

“Oh, I think you have to ask him. But, I mean, I just try to set a good example and just show them how I train and work and just, I don’t know, just being together, being around each other, continuing to build that camaraderie and chemistry like we talk about all the time, but just try to say the greatest element is I’m going to just be myself.” 


I have two real quick questions for you. Number one, do you plan on hosting some of your teammates for – I know Deshaun (Watson’s) going to do another one of those passing camps. Will you guys join up and be part of that with them like you kind of were last year? 

“Like the football camp?” 


Yes, during the break, so just wondering if you’re going to be part of something like that again? 

“Oh, yeah. I think potentially I’m open to it. I don’t think as of right now we have anything locked in yet, but there has been talks, though, about coming together and doing things like that.” 


And the other thing is, do you feel like coming out here and being there at OTAs every day had something to do with the fact that you guys were the number one defense last year and you have a tougher road ahead this year with all the quarterbacks you’re going to be facing,  and, I mean do you sort of feel like, can’t rest on your laurels, you got to elevate your game when you take it up? 

“Definitely. Definitely. I mean, we got a saying in the locker room that everything affects everything. And so, like, even coming out here for OTAs and minicamp, that all makes a difference, and so we definitely don’t take none of this lightly. Come out here, get better, and, like I said, got a tough road ahead, but I think we’ll be prepared for it.” 


When we talked to you in April, you’re like, ‘We’ve got to have zero (Greg Newsome II) back. How happy are you that you guys, I think this will be year three or four for you, three in that secondary together. And where’s the ceiling for you three? 

“Yeah, man, I’m so excited to have Greg back, and Greg’s a special player. I call Greg my brain out there on the field. Like, he gets us in position, makes a lot of calls, communicates out there. And, I mean, not only that, he’s a talented player. He’s a number one corner, I believe, as well able to lock guys down on his respective side of the field. And just having all three of us and being able to rotate or put guys in different positions, play inside or outside is a great availability that we got for this team.” 


Denzel, I know kind of going back to doing stuff over the break. I know. Darius Slay and some other cornerbacks have been talking about like kind of like a DBU or CBU camp, kind of similar to the wide receivers and tight ends I mean have you talked with any cornerbacks about doing something like that across the league, and what’s the chance that might happen? 

“Yeah, definitely. There’s definitely been some talks about that as well as coming creating a camp like that or doing a unit mission like that, like the tight ends doing, all those guys. But I definitely look forward to coming together and coming up with guys like that, like a Slay or whoever it may be, and just picking their brain and continue to learn from one another.” 


Denzel, one of the things that Jim (Schwartz) talked about as an area of focus for you guys with red zone defense, as you guys have gone through and done a lot of red zone work during OTAs and camp, what is kind of like the focus there for you guys as a defense?  

“Just being on the same page and executing our assignment, I think, is the biggest thing. And not letting those guys catch the ball or run the ball inside and scoring points in that red zone, find a way to get off the field and get the ball back to our offense.” 

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