Browns Notes: Gregg Williams criticizes Denzel Ward's "stupid" tackle that led to back injury

Defensive coordinator says Ward needs to be tougher, stay on the field

Daryl Ruiter
August 26, 2018 - 2:13 pm
Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (21) tackles Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Ward was injured on the play.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – As teammates knelt around rookie cornerback Denzel Ward Thursday night, Gregg Williams wasn’t too concerned.

He was frustrated.

Williams did not like the way Ward tried to tackle Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, which led to a back injury later diagnosed as back spasms.

“I was glad to hear that and maybe he’ll finally listen to me and stop doing those stupid things the way he’s trying to tackle and tackle the way I tell him to tackle and he won’t get hurt,” Williams said.

After catching a short pass from quarterback Nick Foles, Ertz went airborne as Ward ducked his shoulders to try and bring him down. As the two collides, Ward twisted awkwardly on the ground while trying to wrap the 6-5, 250-pound tight end up.

“I'm not worried as much about the wrap-up part of it. It's about getting the guy to the ground,” Williams said. “A lot of times what you do is you cut the guy. He should have cut the guy at that time right there instead of a 290-pound man running over his face.”

Like head coach Hue Jackson, Williams has grown tired of Ward’s nagging injuries and he made it known on several occasions while answering questions about the No. 4 pick in the draft from Ohio State.

“At this level, you have to stay healthy every day. As a pro, you have to understand there are so many things you have to do in a 24-hour day that it's your job to stay healthy,” Williams said echoing comments made by Jackson on Friday. “And I tell them all the time, there's two words that begin with the letter A they have to own to be a professional football player. One's accountable. The next one's available. When you're not available, you're working on your training room internships.”

Ward had a hip flexor injury on May 4 during rookie minicamp that caused him to miss 2 of the 3 practices and an ankle injury during training camp caused him to leave a practice on Aug 13 before retuning the next day. He’s been limited during practice on several occasions.

“Rookies have to understand this is not a scholarship league. You have to stay healthy and be on the field. If you're not on the field, then you're not helping us, and that's what you have to do. You have to be on the field and play.”

Ward is clearly in Williams' doghouse. 

“He needs to make sure he's doing all the things he needs to do to stay on the field,” Williams said. “Otherwise, hey, he's not a football player.”

No. 6 is No. 2 – Jackson appears to have decided on who Tyrod Taylor’s backup will be to start the season.

“I think that I already proved who that is,” Jackson said. “It is Bake. Baker is there. We have not played a regular season game yet so we will see how that all unfolds. I feel good about the things that Baker went in and did in the game.”

Mayfield relieved Taylor on the third offensive series when Taylor left after dislocating his left pinkie and bruising his left hand falling out on bounds on a fourth down throw from the 1.

“I pretty much have my mind made up on where that is,” Jackson said. “I have not set it officially so you guys can write it. No, I do not. I like to tell my team first before I make those decisions on what we are doing.”

Kicking competition – Jackson had Zane Gonzalez and Ross Martin go at it in another kickoff Sunday, and the results were pretty much even as the competition appears to remain a dead heat.

Gonzalez made from 38, 40 and 45 (although it grazed the upright) but missed from 34. Martin hit from 34, 40 and 45 but missed from 38.

“We really should not miss many kicks out here,” Jackson said. “The game obviously says it all. Obviously, practice leads to the game. I would like to see them make them in practice and for sure want to see them make them in the game. Our team needs that and depends on it.”

They also ran the end of half/game fire drill that saw Gonzalez miss from 53 but Martin make it.

Jackson is a believer in experience which has him leaning towards Gozalez but the competition isn’t over yet.

“I think that is makes a difference,” Jackson said. “Obviously, Gonzo kicked a 54-yarder. That was huge. Today, he missed a couple. We will go back and watch the tape. I still think that he is in the lead. He has to solidify that, still needs to go kick well and finish that.”

Quick return – Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and tight end David Njoku’s time on the side was brief.

Both players returned to practice Sunday.

Ogunjobi had a shoulder injury while Njoku was dealing with a sore ankle.

Injury report – WR Josh Gordon (hamstring), S Damarious Randall (knee), LB Genard Avery (hip), FB Danny Vitale (calf), OL Kevin Bowen (knee), TE Seth DeValve (quad) and DL Trevon Coley (ankle) did not practice Sunday.