Cleveland Browns

Denzel Ward needs to change his style of play for his long-term career, health

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Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward suffered his second concussion in a month in Sunday’s victory against Cincinnati.

It’s unknown if he’ll miss the final game of the season against Baltimore but Cleveland will likely cautious with him as it is his second concussion in a four-week span which should be a major cause for concern.

Ward suffered the head injury attempting to tackle Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah and he lowered his head and you could tell immediately that something was wrong with Ward as he looked like he “got his bell rung”.

Browns interim head coach was once again critical of Ward’s tackling form which he called Ward out on during Monday’s conference call with the local media.

“One of the things that is a part of his thing is that change in the style of play at this level. You have to understand who you are playing against. You can’t be up that high anymore on those kinds of people. He can’t be up there.”

Williams was also critical of the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft during the preseason when he suffered a back injury that many thought was worse when Ward tackled Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.

“Maybe, he’ll finally listen to me and stop doing those stupid things the way he’s trying to tackle and tackle the way I tell him to tackle and he won’t get hurt. Rookies have to understand this is not a scholarship league. You have to stay healthy and be on the field. If you’re not on the field, then you’re not helping us, and that’s what you have to do. You have to be on the field and play.

And Williams isn’t wrong in his comments directed at Ward. The rookie has to understand that it isn’t college anymore and he’s not able to make those hits that Ohio State fans fell in love.

He has to learn that when you’re going up against bigger guys which is clear as day that the competition in the NFL is bigger and stronger and Ward’s small frame isn’t going to be able to absorb the hits like he did in college.

Two concussions already in his young career is a red flag.

If you remember, former Browns tight end Jordan Cameron’s career ended after six seasons due to numerous concussions and you’re seeing players retiring earlier than expected because of long-term health concerns because of the growing knowledge of concussions and head trauma.

Ward has been one of the major bright spots of the 2018 Cleveland Browns but you have to question his durability if he’s not willing to change his style.

He’s already been selected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season which only five other Browns have done in franchise history. His three interceptions and 11 pass deflections rank second among rookies in the NFL and he’s also racked up 53 tackles, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

Himself along with Myles Garrett are the cornerstones of the defense for the next five to ten years but if he doesn’t change his tackling style, sadly Ward might not even make it five years.

Now one positive note is that Coach Williams told reporters that Ward was good leaving the facility compared to the concussion he suffered against Houston but he has to go through the concussion protocol and be medically cleared in order to practice and eventually play.

 

 

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