When Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward was last on a football field, he suffered what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury in a loss to the Washington Redskins in the team’s final home game of the 2012 regular season.
Once Ward returned to Berea for the start of offseason workouts on April 1, he did so with the mindset of staying healthy and improving as a player.
“I’m healthy; I’m ready to go,” Ward said. “I’m looking forward to having a productive season.
“I just want to get better every day, get stronger, faster, more explosive, smarter, learn the defense because we’ve got a new system in. I think that’s the most important part, learning the defense and taking it into camp when it comes.”
Overcoming injuries is not something new to Ward, who lost eight games of the 2011 season after suffering a foot injury in a 30-12 loss to the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Nov. 6.
After suffering the injury, Ward rehabbed his foot and came back into training camp ready to play the following year. He registered 68 total tackles, 50 solo stops, one sack for a 10-yard loss, one interception and three forced fumbles before having his season finish short of the final game for the second consecutive year.
Upon returning to the building following his knee injury in 2012, Ward noticed many changes. From the building to the coaching staff and roster, the Browns’ front office has focused on improving the team in any way they could.
Having the 10-week offseason program, and an additional three-day minicamp because of the head-coaching change, to build understanding and camaraderie among the players and coaches is something Ward said is “very important.”
“There’s a lot of changes, but it’s good to be around my teammates, see some new faces and get this thing going,” Ward said. “It’s kind of like spring ball in college. You get back together; you get back to team activities, and are just getting familiar to everything that’s going on, so it’s probably one of the most important times of the year.”