Ward Focused on Chiefs; Not Berry

By: T.J. Zuppe

For seasons upon seasons following each year’s National Football League Draft, it becomes the self-proclaimed job of many to assess and evaluate the selections, by comparing them to those that were slotted above and below them on the draft board. This also applies to positions, as draft classes are often defined by the magnitude of the players at each respective place on the football field.

It seemed the draft in April of 2010 was very rich at the safety position and a number of players have already been placed under the microscope for further evaluations. Those include two men who are already expected to make big impacts, starting for their teams in the defensive backfield.

Chiefs Safety Eric Berry

Those being safeties T.J. Ward of the Cleveland Browns and Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs.

An excellent coincidence has the two playing on the same field this upcoming Sunday in Cleveland.

However, for Berry, selected in the first round and Ward, chosen in round two, the match-up does not seem to have the significance to the two individuals, that others have placed on the week two tilt.

One big reason is the two never actually face each other.

With all that considered, the focus on this week has already shifted to the two playing each other and the comparisons will begin from the first snap. Ward has already begun to put that all aside.

“I play defense, so I won’t be going against him,” Ward said with the assembled media on Wednesday. “Really, it has nothing to do with my goals for the game and what I am doing.

“What he does has nothing to do with what I do, so I’m going to perform as best as possible and do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

That is a great attitude for the rookie safety from Oregon. As is the case in certain situations, too much emphasis is placed on individuals that never actually square off against one another. The same could be said for two pitchers in American League baseball.

Though both will be in the spotlight, their two paths will never cross.

Browns Safety T.J. Ward

What Ward can affect is going against the Chiefs offense. That is where he has targeted his focus.

He knows it is a tough task at hand, following how well they played in week one against the San Diego Chargers.

“I think they have an explosive team,” Ward said. “(They have) a lot of good athletes and a lot of young athletes, so hopefully we can do what we can to contain them. They look like a really good team.”

Individually, Ward knows the Browns will have some tough match-up problems at the stadium on Sunday.

“I think they have two good returners in (Javier) Arenas and (Dexter) McCluster,” Ward added. “The running back (Jamal) Charles is really good. They have a good rookie tight end and of course (quarterback Matt) Cassel. He’s a good quarterback, you could tell his past experience (helped him). They just look really good on offense.”

Ward, and the rest of the Browns defense will have to battle on Sunday, keeping up with the speed and youth Kansas City has infused into their lineup during the off-season.

It will be a great test for the secondary, who held their own in week one against Tampa Bay.

In the past, a team as fast as the Chiefs would possibly give the Browns fits on the defensive side of the ball, so it should be very interesting to see what type of impact a physical player like Ward will have on the game.

That will be the true barometer of the two safeties, starting on Sunday. Just how much have they narrowed the gap for their respective teams on getting back to playoff caliber defenses?

Question two, of a 17-week test will be answered on Sunday. Ward seems confident and eager to meet the challenge.

(Quotes courtesy of WKNR Browns Beat Reporter Daryl Ruiter)

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe


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