Cleveland Browns studs and duds from Week 8 loss to Patriots
Stud: Denzel Ward
The Browns have been without Denzel Ward since their Week 2 game against the New York Jets, and Ward showed why he is important. Not only can he make plays on defense, but he can also use his explosive speed to make an impact on special teams.
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Although Ward is better served as a press-man corner and the Browns are largely deploying him in zone coverage. However, Ward’s athleticism and ball skills helps him play tight coverage in zone and still limit whichever receiver he is covering. Ward finished the game with five total tackles and two passes defensed. Ward almost had an interception in the end zone, but dropped the pass.
Ward also made a big play in the second quarter, this time on special teams. Lined up on the right end of the Browns field goal defensive unit, Ward used his quick burst to get around the edge and block Mike Nugent’s 29-yard field goal attempt, keeping the Patriots lead at 17-7.
The Browns have needed Ward to get healthy because he can be a game-changer when he is on the field. He proved that Sunday against the Patriots, even though his performance ultimately did not help the result. Perhaps if the Browns decided to have Ward play man coverage and follow Julian Edelman all game, then Cleveland could have had a better chance. Instead, Ward was used to shut down one side of the field, which he did.