The fourth-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft rose on the early depth chart, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams pointed out last week on the team's last day of minicamp that Ward's veteran teammates played a role.
"When a veteran comes to me and says, 'Hey coach, we're better when Denzel is out there,'" Williams said, via Patrick Maks of the Browns' official website. "'So really? Now you're taking ownership of him? Oh really? Now you're mentoring him? OK, we'll see. I will give him a couple of reps out there, and we will see.'
"After that, when you give that kid the opportunity and that he fits in the room, as opposed to just anointing him because we drafted him. He hasn't played in this league. I don't anoint anybody. Both he and Myles [Garrett] got the acceptance of the other veterans faster than most rookies that I've had."
The rookie's emergence and acceptance by the team's veterans mirrored what Williams saw in Garrett in 2017.
"Both he and Myles have fit in a locker room faster than most rookie I've had the chance to draft," Williams told reporters, via a video on the Browns' website . "I don't move them up the depth chart without the understanding of how they're fitting in with the other veterans that play on the field."
The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Ward is set to enter training camp with plenty of momentum based on the recently-concluded organized team activities and minicamp.
Cleveland will count on him once the regular season kicks off to help improve the pass defense, which finished the 2017 season ranked 19th in the league.
But so far, so good for Ward, who drew another high compliment from his defensive coordinator.
"He's one of the best press guys I've seen in the last few years at this level," Williams told reporters. "He still has a ways to go, but coming in he has a base of knowledge that's pretty good."