The Cleveland Browns could do without star cornerback Denzel Ward at least early in training camp as he continues to heal his foot from an injury sustained during the team’s offseason program.
Ward chipped his foot during the last minicamp practice, even though it was the last minicamp practice. He was X-rayed and underwent an MRI, which fortunately showed no structural damage, although he was spotted wearing a hiking boot during his youth camp last month. That being said, keeping Ward on the shelf at all times is an issue for the Browns, and they’ll be cautious when the star cover man goes to training camp, according to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
With Ward out, it will result in more replays for Greedy Williams, third-round rookie Martin Emerson Jr. and likely AJ Green versus Greg Newsome. Williams also struggled with injuries early in his career, suffering a sprained ankle during minicamp. However, he is expected to hit the ground running once training camp ramps up.
Ward has never played a full season in his NFL career due to a number of unfortunate injuries. He missed 13 games overall but was an absolute force when available, closing one side of the field for the Browns.
Ward was renewed for $100.5 million this offseason, making him the best-paid in his position. While the injuries are a concern, the Browns really had no choice but to lock Ward up in a premium position given his potential.
Ward was recently included in the “Top 25 NFL Players 25 And Under” list compiled by NFL executives Mike Tannenbaum, Joe Banner and Bill Polian for the 33rd team. Here’s what they had to say about Ward.
Another key element for the Browns, still working their way back from injury, is the right tackle against Jack Conklin, who sustained a torn patella last season. He’s put himself through a tough rehabilitation, but Cabot believes he’ll be relieved.
“Conklin could be idle or restricted, at least initially. The Browns will also make it easy for Conklin to get him into the starting blocks healthy throughout camp,” Cabot wrote.
If Conklin is unable to leave, the Browns would rely on veteran swing tackle Chris Hubbard to step in.