Denzel Ward Won't Return vs. Chiefs Because of Hip Injury

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2018

Cleveland Browns defensive back Denzel Ward looks on in the first half of an NFL football preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward suffered a hip injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and was ruled out for the rest of the contest.

The Browns selected the 21-year-old with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, and he was expected to be a key part of the defense.

Ward enjoyed a standout collegiate career at Ohio State, including a junior campaign in 2017 in which he finished with two interceptions and 15 passes defended despite teams regularly avoiding throwing in his direction.

He had an injury scare during the preseason when he left a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Ward was diagnosed with back spasms, and he did not miss significant time.

While the Browns made several additions to their secondary during the offseason, losing Ward would be tough since he is expected to be a shutdown corner for years to come.

It would also be a setback for Ward in terms of getting valuable game action and continuing his development into an elite NFL cornerback.

If Ward lands on the shelf, that would likely press T.J. Carrie, Denzel Rice or Tavierre Thomas into starting duty across from Derrick Kindred. Safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun could move back to corner as well.

The likes of Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah would also be under more pressure to get to opposing quarterbacks to make up for the hit to the secondary.

Despite Cleveland's talent on the defensive side of the ball, it will be far easier for opponents to succeed in the passing for as long as Ward is out.