Browns DC: Denzel Ward's 'stupid' tackling led to injury

Cleveland Browns No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward avoided major injury after leaving the third preseason game following a tackle. Ward was diagnosed with back spasms, and the team was being cautious holding out the starting corner.

Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wasn't sympathetic to the rookie's injury, noting poor tackling technique led to the tweaked back.

"I was glad to hear (it wasn't serious) and maybe he'll finally listen to me and stop doing those stupid things the way he's trying to tackle and tackle the way I tell him to tackle and he won't get hurt," Williams said Sunday, via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer.

Williams declined to offer specifics on what he's been telling Ward: "You can ask that to Denzel," he said.

On the play in question, the 190-pound Ward wrenched his back attempting to wrap up Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zack Ertz, who weighs in at about 250 pounds. Williams said Ward should have cut the TE.

"It depends on the size of the person, and also I'm not worried as much about the wrap-up part of it," said Williams. "It's about getting the guy to the ground. A lot of times what you do is you cut the guy. He should have cut the guy at that time right there instead of a 290-pound man running over his face."

An MRI showed that Ward avoided structural damage, but was in obvious pain. He returned to practice two days later.

Williams hopes the experience will be enough to jolt the rookie.

"I think this was a good enough shock that maybe he thinks that I might know what I'm talking about," said Williams.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson told reporters Monday that he would have preferred Williams' views private.

"We don't need to do that stuff in the media," Jackson said, per Cleveland's 92.3 The Fan.

The Browns are counting on Ward to step in and aid a revamped secondary. While he might have issues with tackling Williams' way, the rookie has displayed impressive ball skills.

"He came here and has already shown some people," Williams said. "(Ohio State defensive coordinator) Greg Schiano did a great job in teaching some of those things there. And he's been an example from Day 1 on how to play the ball in the air in the man to man, and it's kind of bled through the group.

"Denzel set that example pretty well back in the spring, and he still does a very good job of playing the ball. He has a very natural way of doing that."

The Browns opted for the talented cornerback rather than adding pass rusher Bradley Chubb with the fourth overall pick. Ward now must stay healthy to prove Cleveland made the correct call.