Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said Sunday he's happy cornerback Denzel Ward avoided a major back injury but that the first-round draft pick's poor tackling technique is the reason he got hurt.
Ward, the No. 4 overall draft pick, suffered a back injury in a preseason game Thursday night when he got twisted making a tackle on Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. He underwent an MRI, which revealed no structural damage. He officially has been diagnosed with back spasms.
"It is good. I do not worry about those things, but I was glad to hear that. Maybe he will finally listen to me and stop doing those stupid things the ways he is trying to tackle and maybe tackle the way I tell him to tackle and he will not get hurt," Williams said.
Asked for specifics on how he is telling Ward to tackle, Williams said, "You are going to have to ask Denzel."
However, later when asked about the difficulty in teaching defensive backs to use their arms and wrap up when tackling opponents, Williams discussed Ward's technique on the tackle of Ertz.
"It depends on the size of the person. Also, I am not worried as much about the wrap-up part of it as it is about getting the guy to the ground. What you do is you cut the guy. He should have cut the guy that time right there instead of a 290-pound man running over his face," he said.
Williams credited Ward, too, saying he "has come a long way" but added that "he just needs to stay healthy. He needs to tackle the way that I tell him to tackle."
"At this level, you have to stay healthy every day. As a pro, you have to understand that there are so many things that you have to do in a 24-hour day, and that it is you have to stay healthy. I tell him all of the time, there are two words that begin with the letter 'A' that you have to own to be a professional football player -- one is accountable, and the next one is available. When you are not available, you are working on your training room internships," he said.
On Saturday, Browns head coach Hue Jackson said there was "no doubt" Ward would be able to play in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.