Two cornerstone pieces of the Browns defense are headed to the Pro Bowl.
Defensive end Myles Garrett and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward were selected Tuesday as Cleveland’s two representatives. Garrett, the second-year pass rusher and former first-round pick, was named a starter while Ward, the No. 4 pick in this past year’s draft, will be a backup.
It marks the first time since 2016 the Browns have had multiple players named to the initial Pro Bowl rosters. Ward is the first Cleveland rookie to be named to the Pro Bowl since Joe Thomas in 2007.
Six other Browns were named alternates: OL Joel Bitonio (first), RB Nick Chubb (second), P Britton Colquitt (second), WR Jarvis Landry (third), QB Baker Mayfield (fourth) and OL Kevin Zeitler (fourth).
The 2019 Pro Bowl is set for Jan. 27, at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. The game kicks off at 3 p.m., and will air on ABC and ESPN.
Back fully healthy after an injury-affected rookie season, Garrett has been a force on the edge as one of the league’s most dominant pass rushers. Currently tied for sixth in the NFL with 12.5 sacks, Garrett has contributed at least a half-sack in 10 games this season. He’s also forced three fumbles, knocked down three passes and blocked a field goal.
Garrett’s 19.5 career sacks already rank as the most in Browns history and tied for ninth-most in NFL history for a player’s first 24 games. He needs just 1.5 more to set the team’s single-season record, which has been held by Reggie Camp since 1984. Garrett is the first Browns defensive end to make the Pro Bowl since Rob Burnett in 1995.
“I’m honored to be selected to the Pro Bowl,” Garrett said. “I especially want to thank the fans for all the support that they show our team. Football is a team game and you can’t do it on your own. I’m happy to be able to share this experience with Denzel because this honor is really a testament to our entire defense.”
Ward, a Nordonia native and former Ohio State star, made an immediate impact in his first NFL season, landing a starting job in minicamp and quickly emerging as Cleveland’s top cornerback. Taking on some of the NFL’s top receivers on a weekly basis, Ward has seen less and less balls thrown his way while compiling three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, a forced fumble and 36 tackles. He was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Week after a Week 1 performance against the Steelers in which he intercepted two passes and after Week 5, when he had an interception and a blocked field goal in Cleveland’s overtime victory over the Ravens.
Ward, who led all AFC cornerbacks in the NFL’s Pro Bowl fan vote, is just the sixth Browns rookie to make the Pro Bowl, joining Thomas, LB Chip Banks (1983), KR Greg Pruitt (1973), WR Paul Warfield (1965) and RB Jim Brown (1957). Browns general manager John Dorsey, who was previously in the same position with the Chiefs, has had a player drafted by him make a Pro Bowl as a rookie in four straight seasons. The previous ones were CB Marcus Peters, WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt.
“I’m proud that I am able to represent the city of Cleveland at the Pro Bowl,” Ward said. “There are so many great players who have made the Pro Bowl in this team’s history and to be included with them is an honor. I want to thank all my coaches, teammates and fans for helping make this happen.”