To open the 2023 season, the Browns have a Week 1 matchup vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. Besides a few players heading to the IR, the Browns have stayed relatively healthy. However, veteran CB Denzel Ward has been out due to being in concussion protocol.
Ward was able to return to practice on a limited basis today. His status for Sunday is unknown and it may come down to a game-time decision. In five seasons with the Browns, Ward has played in 66 games and has made 65 starts. Concussion protocol is not taken lightly and Ward will only return once team doctors fully clear him.
Denzel Ward has a chance to play on Sunday if he progresses well over the next few days
Key news for Browns: Pro Bowl CB Denzel Ward returns to practice field on limited basis today for 1st time since Aug. 26.
Ward remains in concussion protocol. HC Kevin Stefanski said Ward needs to “clear all benchmarks” to play Sunday vs Bengals. But practice return is progress. pic.twitter.com/QnX2MyOrsq
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 6, 2023
Since being drafted by the Browns 4th overall in 2018, Ward has been a full-time starter in the NFL. The 26-year-old has still not played a full season yet, something to keep in mind. His highest total was 15 games in 2021 and his next closest was 14 games last season. Ward is a playmaker when he’s on the field and he knows how to find the ball.
The two-time Pro Bowler had 3 interceptions, 15 pass deflections, 2 fumbles returned for a touchdown, and 42 solo tackles. Ward is far and away the CB1 for the Browns this season. This Sunday, he’ll have his hands full guarding the Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase. The star WR missed one of the two inner-division matchups last season. In the one game he did play, Chase had 15 catches for 119 yards and one touchdown. He’s not an easy player to cover, but Ward is Cleveland’s best chance to do so.
#Browns Denzel Ward back on the practice field, still in concussion protocol, but practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/WVzD3lECfP
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham9) September 6, 2023
Concussion protocol is not a measured science for how long a player will be out. It roughly takes a week or so, but every player is different. Based on how Ward is practicing, it looks like he’s moving in the right direction to being ready for Sunday. It all comes down to if he can get out of concussion protocol or not.