But while opponents will now have to deal with Beckham on game days, Denzel Ward and the Browns defensive backs will have to see the three-time Pro Bowler daily in practice.
That’s a challenge second-year Browns corner Denzel Ward isn’t shying away from. As they say, iron sharpens iron.
“I love going against Odell, someone who’s going to compete, and he’s going to get me ready for the games,” Ward told the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich. “We have a lot of conversations. I told him he’s going to be one of the reasons my game goes to the next level. I definitely enjoy (competing), and looking forward to going against him more and Jarvis (Landry) and a lot of those receivers.”
Last season, Ward made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, establishing himself as one of the top corners in the league and often taking on the task of covering the opponents top receiver. The Ohio State product collected three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, a forced fumble and 36 tackles.
Over the span of Beckham’s first five years in the league, he’s caught 390 passes for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in 59 games.
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Ward was one of the first players that Beckham mentioned during his press conference at Browns’ minicamp, echoing the sentiments that Ward had about competing in practice.
“I personally think that he’s going to be a top, top corner,’’ Beckham told Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “From what I’ve seen, we’re going to go at it every single day, and we’re going to get better. That’s what me and him talk about when we [have conversations]. I tell him, ‘If you have any questions, anything, you come ask me.’ I’m going to do the same. I’m going to walk up to you and be like, ‘What did you see on the route?’ What made you do this? That’s how you get better.”
The two gave a preview of what their battles might look like at minicamp, with Ward spending a solid chunk of his time covering Beckham. Head coach Freddie Kitchens has been vocal about the team’s wide receiver depth — which also includes Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway, among others — being a win-win for the offense and defense.
“You want to try and surround yourself with competitive people,” Kitchens told Cleveland.com, “and I think we’ve done a good job of that.”