Browns notes: Denzel Ward clears concussion protocol, returns to practice

Ward, Myles Garrett, Joel Bitonio and Baker Mayfield weigh in on Pro Bowl selections

Daryl Ruiter
December 19, 2018 - 12:04 pm

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) After being sidelined for 2 1/2 weeks, Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward was back on the practice field Wednesday.

Ward missed the previous two games because of a concussion suffered Dec. 2 in a 29-13 loss at Houston.

“It was long. Longer than I expected,” Ward said Wednesday. “Just glad to be back. I was out there today, I had fun, back with the guys, able to run around. So glad I’m back.”

Ward explained that it was his first concussion, which was different than the stinger he suffered during the third preseason game against Philadelphia.

“It was the Houston game and the running back was coming up and one of our players tackled the running back and they both kind of like hit me on the side of my head and just kind dinged me up after that,” Ward said.

Tuesday night Ward was named to the Pro Bowl, becoming just the sixth player in Browns history to make it as a rookie and the first since Joe Thomas in 2007.

“Just shows all the hard work that all of us put in,” Ward said. “This is not just me, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. So they were real supportive, I appreciate them and the coaches. Just real exciting.”

Ward, a Nordonia and Ohio State product, has tallied three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, 48 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 12 games this season.

“I was confident before, but just knowing that I can play with anybody out here going into the game and not really having that worry, I could just go out there and play,” Ward said.

First step – Myles Garrett views his Pro Bowl selection as just the first step towards achieving his goals.

“My dad was more excited than me,” Garrett said. “I mean, it's a great honor. I'm this way with everything. I'm honored to be in the Pro Bowl or gifted with anything. I'm happy. I'm definitely going to smile. I appreciate it. But I'm not going to get too high or too low.”

So what’s next on the career ‘to do’ list?

“Two, All-Pro. Step three, Defensive Player of the Year. Step four, win it all,” Garrett said.

First alternate – Left guard Joel Bitonio’s Pro Bowl bid fell a tad short, but there’s a pretty good chance he’ll still get an invite to Orlando next month as a first alternate.

Bitonio’s grandma, who lives in Colorado and attended Saturday night’s 17-16 win over the Broncos, had been voting often to help his cause.

“She doesn’t think she voted enough because I didn’t get in first ballot, but I told her she’s done plenty,” Bitonio said.

Not a nod – Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield was named a fourth alternate to the AFC squad Tuesday night but he’s not exactly celebrating.

“An alternate? No, not really,” Mayfield said. “That is like you have a certain amount of guys at the playground and what am I? The fourth alternate? Until the other three get sick or do not want to play, I am not going in. No, it is not that good.”

Like the Browns playoff hopes, a series of spectacular events would have to occur for Mayfield to get bumped up to the game, which he’s not expecting. And even if he is, he would find it hard to put Pro Bowl on his resume for this season.

“That is not a true Pro Bowl selection,” Mayfield said.

Nearing a sellout – The Browns have an “extremely limited” number of tickets available for Sunday’s home finale against the Bengals and the team is expecting a sellout.

Cleveland has won 4 of their last 5 games and can clinch their first winning record within divisional play with a victory.

Season of giving – Bitonio replaced retired and presumed future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas this year as the leader of the annual ‘Shop with a Pro’ event at DICKS Sporting Goods which was held Monday night.

“Oh gosh, it’s awesome,” Bitonio said. “Those kids are great and it’s really cool to see my teammates – Duke [Johnson], some of the linemen came out J.C [Tretter] and those guys, Austin [Corbett] – to really interact with those kids because they don’t get to do that all the time, and for us, it’s easy for us to go out there and shop with them and say ‘Pick something out and have a good Christmas.’”

Bitonio and a few of his teammates hosted nearly 30 kids from Cleveland rec centers, who received a $200 shopping spree and a new pair of shoes. The shopping sprees were made possible by Bitonio, his wife and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation.

So how many of them grabbed a Bitonio jersey off the rack?

“I don’t think DICKS sells Bitonio jerseys,” Bitonio joked. “And those are a little pricey, man. A lot of these guys are good budgeters, so they were working their way through some things. They would get the t-shirt jersey before the actual jersey.”

Injury report – DNP: C JC Tretter (ankle), DT Larry Ogunjobi (bicep)

Limited: OL Austin Corbett (foot), DB Phillip Gaines (knee), TE David Njoku (knee/thigh)

Full: CB Denzel Ward (concussion), CB Justin Burris (shoulder), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), CB Terrance Mitchell (wrist), LB Joe Schobert (knee), DB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen)