Denver Broncos | News

Whatever you ask, T.J. Ward delivers

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --With every game he plays, T.J. Ward becomes more and more the Swiss Army knife of the Broncos defense.

Drop into deep coverage? Check.

Blitz off the edge? Check, and double check, because it was his two sacks on blitzes Sunday that made him the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week.

A delayed blitz up an A- or B-gap? Check.

Short coverage on a tight end in the flat? Check; he helped neutralize Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Line up in the slot against a tight end or a big wide receiver? Check.

Attack the run from the box? Few safeties have done it better in recent years, and that's one of the reasons why the Broncos targeted him in free agency 19 months ago.

Ward handled all of those responsibilities on the first two plays against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday.

With fellow safety David Bruton Jr. also capable of such versatility, Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has only scratched the surface with the permutations of his secondary.

"Both those guys, you can move them around and do what you want to do with them," Phillips said last week. "Both of them can blitz, both of them can cover and both of them are smart. It's given us a lot of variables. It's hard for the offense to pick up who's doing what."

Last year, Ward had two sacks all season. He's matched that total in four games.

"Coach knows he's a great blitzer, so blitz him. That's what he's doing. He's calling his name, and they can't block him. It's something that we saw last year, but we didn't get him a lot of blitzes last year. We're starting to get him going, and you see what he did."

In 2014, Ward was involved in the pass rush once every 18.29 times he was involved in pass defense, according to, which charted him with 657 plays of coverage responsibility and 38 pass rushes. So far this year, it's once every 13.1 times, based on 10 pass rushes and 121 plays of responsibility in coverage.

"Coach Wade has been putting great game plans together. He's using me exactly how I wish to be used," Ward said, "so I'll just keep listening to [Defensive Backs Coach] Joe Woods and Coach Wade."

"That's what we can do. We have a lot of guys that can come in and rush -- like me and T.J. are great blitzers," added Harris.

"[Phillips] is able to send us. But I haven't been sent yet!"

Maybe that's coming. After all, Phillips has a mental library filled with ideas and concepts culled over nearly four decades in the NFL. There's little that he hasn't used, and with versatile components like Ward that he can move around, Phillips can use him to set others up, too.

Phillips' defensive garage is filled with well-constructed tools. But there are none quite like Ward, who is six tools in one.

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