Back in April, the Cleveland Browns drafted Oregon safety T.J. Ward with their second round pick and many draft experts called it a "reach."
Now after several great preseason performances and a fantastic season opener, Ward was playing like he was more of a first round pick rather than a player who was picked in the top half of the second round.
Ward led the Browns with 11 total tackles, eight of them solo, one forced fumble, and one tackle for a loss.
Looking at those stats, one would think that Ward was a veteran playmaker and not playing in his very first professional regular season game.
In a game where the Browns committed three turnovers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had two of their own.
One was a fumble that was forced by Ward, and the other was an interception by Browns backup defensive back Mike Adams. Ward was the one who hit Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman as he released the ball caused a bad pass to Adams.
That is the type of play the Browns expect from Ward every week, and he is more than advertised right now.
In the tough AFC North, where there are two premier safeties with Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu and Baltimore's Ed Reed. The Browns may have the newest big-time playmaker in Ward as long as he can continue to produce at this high level all season long.
If he can, then look for more of the same as was seen on Sunday in the loss to Tampa.
On a side note, a shout-out has to go to Adams, who had a great game despite not being a starter in the secondary.
Adams was second on the defense in total tackles with seven, five solo, three passes defended, and one interception which he returned 26 yards.
The other starting safety is Abram Elam, who was a non-factor and only had three total tackles, all of them solo.
Perhaps the Browns should reconsider their starting safety unit and have both Ward and Adams starting instead of Elam.
Adams may be a backup, but he produced some solid numbers and great play as a sub.
The Browns' defense needs to make plays and they need to consider placing the best players in the starting lineup to do so.
Adams should be on top of that list now.
(Also posted on Dawg Scooper: THE Cleveland Browns Blog)