CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward is among the team leaders in tackles less than one year after a knee injury cut his 2012 season short.
For his dedication to the team and commitment to improving his craft despite having to battle back from injuries in each of the past two seasons, Ward was honored with the Browns’ Ed Block Courage Award at the team’s 18th annual Deck the House event at FirstEnergy Stadium Tuesday night.
“First of all, I want to say thank you, and it means a lot in being chosen as the winner of this award by my teammates and my peers,” Ward said. “It means a lot to come back from injury, period. A lot of guys go through this, like other guys on the list, (defensive tackle)
Named after the former athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts, the Ed Block Courage Award is an honor bestowed on a player by his teammates for his ability to overcome on-field challenges as well as his work within the community.
Through his hard work and success on and off the field, Ward has earned the respect of his teammates, many of whom, including left tackle
“He’s having a great season out there, doing a great job on our defense,” said Thomas. “The Ed Block Award is just recognition for all of the hard work he’s put into coming back from those injuries.”
Despite missing 10 of 32 games over the last three seasons after starting all 16 as a rookie, this season, Ward has registered 92 total tackles, including 65 solo stops, 27 assists, 1.5 sacks, and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a 47-yard touchdown in a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills on the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football broadcast on Oct. 3.
“From the beginning of the offseason and throughout training with the team here, and even after we left before camp, it was pretty much a strenuous grind, just hard work always,” Ward said, “Just making sure I came into this season as healthy as possible and ready to go when I did get in here for the long haul.”
Ward said winning the award came as a surprise to him, especially because he watched Pinkston come back to the team and return to the field after missing 10 games in 2012 because of blood clots.
“I didn’t think that I was going to win it since some guys had bounced back from some very serious injuries and came and played, but yet, my teammates felt that I bounced back the strongest,” Ward said. “I don’t know what they felt, but it’s just an honor for them to vote me for this award. It really could have been any of the three of us to win that honor, but I’m glad that I did.”
Although Ward admitted he would trade individual success or accolades for victories, he believes the Browns are on the right path.
“I want to see us win more games,” Ward said. “That’s a process and I think that we’re taking the process on correctly. We’re doing it in the right manner and we are building it up from the base. I think that we have a great corps of players and that we are only going to get better and that the outcomes are going to start to match the process and the work that we put into it. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”