CB Denzel Ward (1.4.24)

Denzel, considering everything you’ve been through this season and being named to the Pro Bowl last night. What does it mean to you?

“I’m grateful. It’s definitely a blessing. It’s just a testament to the team and I wasn’t able to do it by myself and they just been putting me in great positions all year to make plays, but it’s just a great testament to myself and doing as much as I can to help my team win and that’s just been a main goal for me. So I’m definitely appreciative of all the votes and everyone that selected me into the Pro Bowl. But we still got big plans ahead, though.”


What does it say about the team that there’s five of you in and six alternates? So many guys kind of got that nod and got those votes. 

“Yeah, a lot of guys are well deserving of making it to the Pro Bowl. (David) Njoku’s first Pro-Bowl selection. We had a lot of guys – I still feel that we could have had a lot more guys making into the Pro Bowl this year, but yeah, it’s a tough thing to get in, but definitely shout out to guys on our team that did make it and around the league.”


Jim Schwartz today was talking about the pressure he puts on you guys as corners. Said you’re probably the bottom of the league in cover two. So how much do you like that pressure of being man to man so much? 

“I mean, I like it and I think we like it. At the beginning of the year, Coach Schwartz, he told us he’s going to demand a lot out of us this season and it was going to have to be one of our best seasons so far. And I feel we’ve been up to the challenge and we’ve taken that on and we’ve been doing what we’re supposed to do to execute that and go out there and help this team out. So I’ve liked the pressure. It’s been good. I’ve been appreciative of his team that he’s brought in and all he’s done for this organization.”


Sounds like Kevin’s (Stefanski) going to give some guys the weekend off to rest. Just how helpful considering you guys had the bye week in week five, how helpful can this week be for you both individually as a team, even if you don’t play on the Sunday? 

“Yeah, I think it’s very helpful. We definitely got to take advantage of the opportunity that guys being able to rest but still working our craft out here in practice and everything, and also guys getting an opportunity to play more out there come game day. So I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of guys this week.”


Jim was also talking about you fighting through that shoulder injury, being able to tackle like you were earlier. Do you feel that way? Do you feel like when you get to the playoffs, you’ll be back to kind of that? 

“I feel I’m back now. When I first got back, it was still kind of bothering me a little bit and I was kind of hesitant on some tackles and I know I need to be better for the team, but I definitely feel I’m back to where I need to be to help make tackles for the team and do what I need to do out there.”


With not everybody playing on Sunday, how important is it for this team to still finish strong and end the regular season on a high note? 

“Yeah, that’s still the goal is to win the week and win the game and go 1-0 this week. We got an opportunity to get twelve wins in a season and that’d be great for this organization, for the city. And so that’s the goal. So we’re focused on that this week and what we could do to get the win.”


Obviously, you were here in 2020 when you guys made the playoffs, but different landscape of things with COVID and all that and the crowd that was there. What did it feel like? What did it mean to you to be out there on Thursday and be able to share that moment in a place where you grew up? 

“Yeah, man. It was a special moment just to bring the playoffs to the city of Cleveland. Like you said, a place that I grew up in. Just looking forward to making a splash in the playoffs. So not looking to just get there. We didn’t get this far, just to get this far. So we’re looking to make something happen in there and looking forward to the opportunity.”


Jim said today that sure he still aspires to be a head coach at some point. What impact has he had on you as a player? And obviously it’s clear what the impact on the team has been with him being here, but just talk about him.

“Huge impact. More than I could probably even speak of in this moment. I’m very appreciative of Coach Schwartz and just who he is as a person coming into his organization and the demands that he placed on us and his coaching style and just how he’s helped develop my game this year. I do feel that he’s one of the key reasons that helped take my game to the next level this year and just, I don’t know, I can’t say enough great things about Coach Schwartz. He’s a great coach and he’s done a lot of great things and helped us get this far as we are making it to the playoffs.”


Greg (Newsome) might be playing his best football over the last month. What have you seen out of him and how have you seen him develop?

“Newsome? Yeah, man. Greg’s a great player. I feel that’s also a guy that I feel could have possibly made the Pro Bowl, but, yeah, he’s been playing great for us, making plays. He’s such a versatile player, able to play in the nickel, play outside of corners and do various things for us, all that we ask. So he’s a great player. He’s been good for us this year and one of those guys that definitely produced well for us this season.”


What does it mean for you to be Cleveland born, part of this playoff run, a huge part of this playoff run and the Pro Bowl piece, what does it mean to you being from here? How important? 

“Yeah, it means a lot. I feel it means a lot for this city, and that’s what I want to do. I’m appreciative to be able to represent the city of Cleveland in the Pro Bowl and making it to the playoffs. I feel like it’d be big for the city, the fact that we’re in the playoffs, but also the opportunity to be able to push along further in that. So I think it’d be big. It’s all for the city all for the fans, all for this organization. So we’re just looking to continue to get more wins and make a push in the playoffs.”


Is it kind of a fever dream for you, kind of looking at it, like grew up here your entire life and now you get this opportunity? 

“Yeah, in a sense, it’s a great opportunity, and I’m just taking it all in right now and just appreciative of the opportunity and I said, just trying to go out there and do what I can to help this team win.”



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