Facebook Twitter RSS Email

Ward healthy, ready to hit

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service

BEREA, Ohio — Strong safety T.J. Ward doesn’t take kindly to people dogging the Browns.

"Historically, we haven't been the best team, but history rewrites itself every day," Ward said after the team’s first training-camp practice Saturday. "What we do from here on is going to stamp us and not what we did in the past.

"We’re looking for the opportunity to go out there and win every game. We want to show the league and fans that this is not the same old team. I think we're going to wake some people up this year."

Ward also said he understands fans wanting to see deep passes being thrown on offense, but he thinks they are going to learn to love the defense this season.

Having Ward healthy will be a good start.

Ward brings physicality to the secondary that's been absent since the days of the last Eric Turner. Like Turner, he plays the position with rude intentions.

"We play in a very physical division and you need an enforcer. I strive to be that," Ward said. "We're a physical defense as a whole and having an enforcer makes us that much better. When you keep hitting on an offense it wears on them pretty fast."

Growing up, Ward idolized Devner Broncos hard-hitting safety Steve Atwater, nicknamed the Smiling Assassin. He's adopted a similar style, delivering ferocious hits on ball carriers. Love him or hate him, he plays with an old-school mentality that says punish your opponent.

Ward started all 16 games his rookie season 2010, recording 123 combined tackles and two interceptions. He played in the first eight games last season but was inactive for the next six with a foot sprain. He finished the season on injured reserve.

"I'm hoping to have a huge season," Ward said. "I'm really antsy to get this season going. Although I missed half the season last year it seems like I missed the entire year.

"As soon as I got comfortable playing and my feet underneath me I got hurt. That was kind of frustrating. I trained really hard this offseason and in the film room religiously trying to improve my cover skills. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and bringing it."