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  • October 12, 2018 5:53 AM +04

    Denzel Ward gets things done quickly.

     

    One of the rookie cornerback's first goals was to earn a starting job. Check. Next was paying off the mortgage on his mom's house. Check. Then it was signing his NFL contract and reporting to training camp on time. Done.

    Now he wants to help the Browns win. OK Bengals Game Jerseys , that may take a minute.

    But to this point, nothing has slowed the speedy Ward, who has impressed his teammates and Cleveland's coaches. After an eye-popping spring camp, the former Ohio State All-American has joined the first-team defense, and the Browns believe the 21-year-old is ready for the weekly challenge of covering elite wide receivers.

    Ward's up for it.

    "I'm very comfortable in who I am as a player," he said Friday without the slightest trace of arrogance. "I'm a fast player."

    While Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback selected first overall by the Browns, waits his turn behind Tyrod Taylor, Ward's already on the field.

    And there's no reason to think he won't stay there.

    Ward stood out during the Browns' first training camp practice on Thursday with several solid plays. He made a leaping interception down the sideline in front of three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry during 11-on-11 drills, and Ward looked comfortable whether in goal-line situations or third-and-longs.

    He did get beat on a go route by fellow rookie Antonio Callaway, who made a late adjustment to haul in a deep pass from Mayfield.

    The catch drew applause from Browns fans, but Ward said the reception probably wouldn't have counted in a game.

    "I think he stepped out of bounds," Ward said, smiling. "They caught it with the camera from over here, so they didn't really see it, but that was a great catch. He can definitely run."

    So can Ward, whose quickness and ability to play man-to-man "press" coverage is what made him so appealing to the Browns, who surprised many draft experts by taking him so high after he was projected to be picked later in the first round.

    His high profile notwithstanding, Ward has shown a willingness to work and improve since the day he arrived.

    "He's pretty quiet off the field," said linebacker Christian Kirksey. "He's not a person that is going to sit there and just talk all day. He's going to do his job. He's going to do it to the best of his ability. He's very coachable. I believe that once he really gets comfortable with his role of being a lockdown corner, I think that the sky's the limit for him."

    Ward has immersed himself in Cleveland's playbook, and beyond watching daily practice film, he's been taking a peek at tape of some future opponents.

    The Browns open the season on Sept. 9 against Pittsburgh, which means Ward will make his regular-season debut against Steelers star Antonio Brown, widely considered the league's best all-around receiver.

    "The game's not too big for him," coach Hue Jackson said. "Those moments are not too big for him. He's going to face some of the best receivers in the league. Think of the first game of the year, playing Antonio Brown, the best guy on the planet. So you better have real thick skin, and he has that."

    It's helped Ward to prepare for Brown that he's been going head-to-head with Landry and Josh Gordon, who is currently away from the team to address health problems.

    Ward said he's not intimidated by any matchup.

    "Those guys are elite players, great guys and players," Ward said. "But we all put our shoes and pants on the same way, and just come out here and work."

    Ward was the final member of Cleveland's rookie class to sign, finalizing his four-year, $29 million contract on Wednesday a day before players reported.

    The deal includes a $19 million signing bonus Chargers Game Jerseys , and the financial security prompted Ward, who grew up just outside Cleveland, to pay off the mortgage for his mother, Nicole. Ward's father, Paul, died two years ago.

    "My mom has done a lot for me," he said. "So whatever I can do to make things easier for my mom, I'm down to do it."

    He has everything covered.

    NOTES: Greg Robinson, competing with Shon Coleman to replace Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, was carted off with a head injury and will be evaluated. ... LB Mychal Kendricks participated in team drills for the first time since undergoing offseason ankle surgery. He was signed as a free agent in June after winning a Super Bowl with Philadelphia. ... The team signed DL Zaycoven Henderson and WR Blake Jackson.

    Draymond Green’s remarkable postseason has pushed beyond basketball, featuring Charles Barkley declaring he’d like to punch the emotional Golden State forward, a death threat from a frustrated fan who Green encouraged to get the help he needs, and an attempt by the All-Star to listen in on the Pelicans huddle.

     

    Oh, and it just so happens Green also became the first Warriors player to ever average a triple-double in a postseason series.

    ”He’s just incredibly engaged and locked in. This is the best I’ve seen him play all year,” coach Steve Kerr said. ”Draymond has to play hard to do what he does. I think the playoffs have energized him.”

    Green is at his best on the big stage and playing just on the edge – pushing boundaries by being just physical enough without crossing the line, dishing out just enough trash talk, though others may beg to differ.

    Just as Barkley did.

    Green flaps his mouth with the best of them in what many might consider over-the-top gamesmanship, engaging with Rajon Rondo – Green praised his opponent afterward – in what became a testy matchup during the Warriors’ five-game series win against the Pelicans. He tangled with Anthony Davis, too.

    Green’s enormous personality prompted TNT analyst Barkley to go off and declare, ”I want to punch him in the face, I really do.”

    No biggie, Green just fired back.

    ”He’s seen me a million times. If he feels that strongly about it then punch me in my face when you see me,” Green said. ”If you’re not going to punch me in my face when you see me then shut up. It’s no different than somebody sitting behind a computer screen tweeting, `I’ll knock you out,’ and you never see them in life. Well he’s seen me a bunch of times and he’ll see me again this year. Punch me in the face or if not, no one cares what you would have done. You’re old and it is what it is.”

    Barkley later apologized and called his comments inappropriate.

    Green is in the middle of everything for the defending champion Warriors, and that’s right where they want him as they try for a repeat title.

    Next up is a date with James Harden, Chris Paul and the top-seeded Houston Rockets.

    ”I live for playoff basketball,” Green said. ”It’s the most fun time of the year for me, but just, you know, locking in and focusing.”

    Tensions will certainly be high in these long-anticipated Western Conference Finals. Everybody who plays with Green loves him, and those who have to face him rarely enjoy themselves. He’s a menace on both ends, blocking shots, pounding the boards http://www.officialknightsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-brad-hunt-jersey ;, flying out of bounds to save loose balls, celebrating with a roar or flex of his biceps.

    ”Like I’ve said to you guys time and time again, he can basically play all the positions on the floor,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ”That’s what makes it really difficult to play against them, just the versatility that those guys have.”

    Against New Orleans, Green averaged 14.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists. The Warriors are 26-0 overall in games where Green has a triple-double, 4-0 in the playoffs.

    In the final two games of the first round against San Antonio, he had 18 rebounds then a playoff career-high 19 boards, then another 15 in Game 1 against the Pelicans with a triple-double. He was one rebound shy of another triple-double in Game 2 and short by one assist in the 113-104 Game 5 clincher Tuesday night.

    ”I guess that’s great to be the first person in the history of a franchise to do something, but nonetheless, you don’t get triple-doubles by yourself,” Green said. ”You don’t get rebounds by yourself. You need everyone else boxing out on the court. I don’t score points by myself. I’ve got great teammates that find me and give me great shots, and I don’t make the baskets on the pass that I deliver to them.

    ”So I don’t get fooled into thinking, `Oh, I averaged a triple-double in the series because of me.”’

    Green hardly could have expected his fiery style to bring on a death threat, and he brushed it off with little concern. The Warriors increased their security, even if comedian Andrew Polk apologized for his social media post saying Green should be shot.

    Green has swiftly moved forward.

    After being told that Kerr called veteran Andre Iguodala the ”baby sitter” on the floor, Green had fun with it: ”I need a baby sitter.”

    And he hardly considered standing next to the Pelicans’ huddle any kind of infraction. Official Josh Tiven told Green to move.

    ”I said, `Hey that ain’t no huddle, I’m just standing over here like they standing over here,”’ Green said. ”It was fun. They was watching something of us. It was pretty good.”

    Green finished the night with 19 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocked shots. About his usual.

    The Warriors want him to continue doing his thing, his way.

    ”Nothing surprises me but always just kind of impressed and you don’t want to take a talent like that for granted, what he brings every single night,” teammate Stephen Curry said. ”It’s fun to watch, the intensity he plays with and timely plays on both ends of the floor, it’s what a gamer does and that’s what he’s been his whole career. Earlier in his career, never, rarely showed up in the stats sheet like his stuff is there right now – right now, it’s the whole package, and it’s amazing.”