Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward will have an MRI exam after exiting Thursday’s preseason game against Philadelphia with a back injury.
Ward was hurt in the first quarter after he went low to tackle Eagles tight end Zach Ertz on a short completion in the right flat.
The second of Cleveland’s two first-round picks (No. 4 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ward remained on the ground for a lengthy time before leaving the game. He did not return.
“We will do everything we can just to make sure, but we will definitely do the imaging and report just to make sure we know everything that is going on with his back,” Browns head coach Hue Jackson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Cleveland obviously has lofty expectations for Ward, who was labeled by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams “one of the best press guys” that he had seen coming out of the draft in recent years.
Ward was a somewhat surprising pick for Cleveland, which took him one spot ahead of Bradley Chubb, the pass-rushing standout from North Carolina State who was widely considered the top defensive player in the draft.
A consensus All-American at Ohio State in 2017, Ward appeared in 11 games and recorded two interceptions, 15 passes defensed and 37 tackles.
Shortly after the draft, Browns general manager John Dorsey said Ward possesses all the requisite tools to be a shutdown cornerback, citing his vertical speed, quickness and “great” ball skills.