Cleveland Browns cornerback got his first taste of practicing against Odell Beckham Jr., and Ward thinks it will help his game go to the ‘next level.’
Despite the selection being viewed as a reach immediately after the selection, Ward was able to prove the doubters of his selection wrong. Ward was one of the best rookie defenders in the league and was also named to the Pro Bowl.
In 13 games, the 22-year-old made 53 total tackles, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble, three interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
After showing the potential of being a shutdown cornerback, Ward has been tasked with covering the best receivers the defense faces. And that includes during practices against teammates. During mandatory minicamp, Ward got his first taste of covering new teammate Odell Beckham Jr.
On one play against Beckham, Ward got the upper hand and almost intercepted a pass targeted for Beckham, although Ward may have gotten away with a hold. As the one play showed, Ward will have his hands full throughout the season going against the best receivers, even during practice.
Ward understands how talented of a receiver Beckham is and he knows the challenges of covering him. However, Ward told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal that he is embracing the match up against Beckham because it will help elevate his game.
"“It was exciting,” Ward said Friday before hosting a youth football skills camp at his alma mater of Nordonia High School. “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.” – Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal"
Beckham is considered one of the top receivers in the NFL and can make life miserable when going against even the best cornerbacks in the league. But Ward will have the opportunity to communicate with Beckham to understand how to have tighter coverage longer against Beckham.
Beckham also understands that Ward is one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL and can also help him. If Ward beats Beckham on a play, he can talk to Ward to understand what he saw during a route.
The Browns are embracing competition this offseason, and that is carrying over to the players on the roster. With how much talent they have on the roster, their competitions against each other is going to help them develop their games even more. And Ward and Beckham are two players who are going to take advantage of the competition against each other.