When defensive back T.J. Ward was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Oregon, he talked about former Oakland Raider Jack Tatum and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott as his football heroes.
Lott and Tatum were known for their hard hits and tough-minded style of play during their careers and over this first three years in a Browns uniform, Ward has developed his own tough, aggressive style.
“T.J., you have a lot of admiration for his toughness,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “He’s a very competitive and tough guy and he understands our scheme better. I think he understands it better every week. That toughness and his desire to play the game and play it hard I think shows up. He made a couple of really nice plays last Sunday, knocking the ball out, big plays, big plays for us.”
Ward missed half of the 2011 season with a foot injury suffered in a 30-12 loss to the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. However, Ward battled back from those injuries throughout the offseason and was healthy for the start of the season.
Ward is the only Browns defensive back to start every game this season and has made 56 total tackles, 41 solo stops and one sack.
Despite battling knee injuries of late, Ward has continued to be a force on the field. He registered two forced fumbles, including one on the final play of the game in a 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.
“I think he’s made improvements,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Ward. “When he came in a year ago, he had to learn a new system. He had to learn a little differently. We were asking the safeties to do some things a little bit different than Rob Ryan and Eric (Mangini), but nothing too out of the box there.
“He played through this year (with) a thumb injury, which, for a guy coming up and tackling people, you’ve got to fight through that. He’s getting some of that out of the way and I thought he played very fast last week. I just want him to build on that.”The all new Browns Fan4Pack is on sale now! The all-inclusive game day package includes 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 Pepsi Products, 4 game programs and 1 parking pass for home games versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9 or the Washington Redskins on Dec. 16. Click here to purchase today!