Cleveland Browns: Beware of Ward! T.J. Ward Quickly Becoming Defensive Icon

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IOctober 5, 2010

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 03:  Defenders T.J. Ward #43 and Eric Wright #21 of the Cleveland Browns break up a pass to wide receiver Jordan Shipley #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

One thing that Cleveland Browns fans look for out of their players is the ability to make smart decisions and be physical on Sundays. T.J. Ward has displayed both of those qualities throughout the first four games of his rookie season and is showing no signs of letting up.

Ward's latest display of physical play has landed him in some hot water after what some consider a "cheap shot" on Cincinnati Bengals WR Jordan Shipley.

Shipley was running a drag route across the Browns endzone when Ward laid a shoulder blow to Shipley's head and sent him crumbling to the turf.

In an article posted by Cleveland Plain Dealer writer, Mary Kay Cabot, Ward said, "I believe I led with my shoulder. I may have got a little helmet, but I didn't lead with my helmet. I didn't try to hit him under his helmet at all." Ward continued, "I would do it again. If I didn't hit him, he might have caught a touchdown.''

That type of physical play and attitude is exactly what the Cleveland Browns need on a defense that has lacked some spark in recent years. The Browns classic "Dawg Defense" was comprised of players who played hard on every down and sometimes delivered debilitating blows to the opposing team's offense and moral.

Ward has that same capability and physical presence that the former Browns defensive legends once displayed. That type of play can alter an opposing team's game plan as well as make their players a little more weary while going up to catch a pass.

A prime example of this is found within the Browns division. Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed have been two of the best safeties in the game throughout the last several years. Both combine big play ability along with the reputation of being physical and sometimes unpredictable.

Even though Ward's career in Cleveland is still young, he has shown many reasons to believe that he may become a great player in future years. Ward leads the Browns defense with 28 solo tackles and one forced fumble.

The Browns have focused hard on developing a defensive unit that would be effective for the next several years, and it is beginning to look like Ward may be a bigger part of it than anyone originally thought.

Ward will get his real test over the coming weeks when Cleveland goes up against many AFC teams as well as the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in Week Seven.