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Being the best at one position is not enough for Broncos' T.J. Ward

Zac Stevens Avatar
October 29, 2016


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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Typically, safeties in the NFL have their hand in a little bit of everything. This season, however, T.J. Ward has his hand in a lot of everything, and it’s significantly helping the Denver Broncos defense.

“He and ‘Stew’ [Darian Stewart] are really having good years,” head coach Gary Kubiak said this week. “T.J. is the guy that’s had to play a little bit of everywhere so he deserves a lot of credit.”

Although Ward’s success is not surprising, since he has been an asset in the Broncos secondary since 2014, the coaching staff says that this year is different for the seventh-year safety out of the University of Oregon.

“The thing T.J. has done that nobody understands—he really had to change his role,” Kubiak said. “When we lost [Justin] Simmons, we had some things going on. T.J. is a guy that had to play a lot of different spots. You ask certain guys to do special things, and he is a special player. He is really having a good year.”

Simmons, the rookie safety from Boston College, was brought to Denver to bring versatility to the safety position. However, after he suffered a small wrist fracture, it was Ward’s versatility that shined through.

“When Justin [Simmons] was here at camp, he was mainly playing free safety in the dime package,” Ward told BSN Denver. “When he was in with me or ‘Stew’ then we would go to strong [safety] and [Simmons] would go to free [safety], but now I’m playing all three—strong, free or dime.

And it doesn’t stop there; Ward can also play close to the line of scrimmage in a linebacker’s role.

“We can bring T.J. in the box,” Kubiak explained. “Obviously, he can play in the middle of the field, and he can play in the box, but to be able to have a guy of T.J’s stature, his size and can play the run and go in the box and tackle, it’s hard to find those guys. He gives us a lot of flexibility.”

“He’s a great guy to have for a coach because he can do everything. He can rush, he can blitz, he can be a blitz guy or he can cover,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “He can tackle, he can play the run and he can blitz in the running game. He does all of those things for us, so he’s a tremendous player.”

Amidst the praise from Kubiak and Phillips—who say he’s having the best year of his career—Ward is far from satisfied.

“I want to be the best free safety, the best strong safety. I don’t like to categorize myself,” Ward said. “I’m not a free safety, a strong safety, I’m not a linebacker, I’m all three. I can do whatever you need from those three positions. That’s what I pride myself in.”

Ward played in every single defensive snap in the Broncos 27-9 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night, the third straight game that he didn’t miss a play on the defensive side of the ball.

Despite not being the most well-known name on the Broncos defense, Ward has certainly proved that he may be as valuable as any other player on this dominant unit.


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