Browns' Denzel Ward on giving back to his mom, how his hip feels and where the bar is set
Cleveland Plain Dealer | 5 days ago

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- During Browns rookie minicamp last week, cornerback Denzel Ward said he'd spend his first paycheck on his mom, but he wasn't sure how.

By the time Mother's Day rolled around on Sunday, the No. 4 pick in the draft had the perfect gift.

"I'm paying for her mortgage on her house,'' the Macedonia, Ohio native said Tuesday night on NFL Network's Total Access. "I'm paying her house off so she doesn't have to worry about that anymore.''

It's been rough since Ward's father, Paul, died unexpectedly during a spin class in 2016. But Ward will have no trouble providing for Nicole when he signs his rookie contract. He'll receive a fully guaranteed four-year deal worth more than $29 million, including a signing bonus of more than $19 million.

But Nicole, who wrote a heartfelt letter to Ward on draft night telling him how proud she was and how his father was celebrating in heaven, will have her work cut out for her now that the Nordonia High grad is a Brown.

"I have my mom (to handle all the ticket requests)," he said at rookie camp. "She'll do it."

Ward (5-11, 190) re-iterated on Total Access that he feels fine after tweaking a hip flexor on the first day of rookie minicamp and sitting out the last two days. He expects to be full-go when the rookies join the veterans on the field for OTAs next week.

"I could've still practiced, but they held me out (for precaution),'' he said. "I'm good now though.''

Ward knows that former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the Saints' first-round pick last year, set the bar high last year by earning AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and making the Pro Bowl.

"Definitely. I'm glad he did,'' he said at rookie camp. "Gave me something to push towards."

Ward still talks to the all-star cast of Ohio State defensive backs all the time. It includes NFL first-round picks Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker and Eli Apple.

"They're just telling me to make sure I stay focused and learn the playbook,'' he said.

He knows he's got a sterling Buckeye DB tradition to uphold.

"It's definitely a high expectation coming from Ohio State and all of the guys that have been able to produce in the league,'' he said. "It's not just getting to the NFL. It's about what you do once you're here.''

Ward, called upon to be the Browns' shutdown corner in the mold of a Joe Haden, is well aware he's facing a Who's Who's of NFL receivers this season that includes Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown, Cincinnati's A.J. Green, New Orleans' Michael Thomas, Houston's DeAndre Hopkins and Atlanta's Julio Jones.

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