In training camp, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward was confident that he’d improve on his breakout season in 2019 — so confident, that the third-year defender expressed to reporters that he believed he could be “one of the best young cornerbacks in the game.”
Ward wasn’t given much of a chance to prove that at full health. After only 31 snaps in the Chiefs’ season-opening win, he had to exit due to a fractured hand. He returned in Week 3 with a hardened cast and played through the inconvenience. In that same game, he had a potential interception fall to the turf — and it appeared to bounce directly off the cast.
He hasn’t missed any time due to injury since, but he also has not met the expectations he set for himself prior to the season. Ward wasn’t afraid to admit it’s been tough from both a physical and emotional standpoint.
“I was playing with a cast on, so I couldn’t really use my left hand how I was supposed to,” Ward explained to reporters on Wednesday. “That hurt me a lot. It hurt me more mentally than anything. I was still out there trying to give my all, help the team, be out there for my teammates. The coaches believed in me. I believe in myself as well. It hurt me a little bit, but now I feel like I’m going to bounce back real strong these last couple of games.”
He reiterated the self-confidence he still has — showing an understanding for how important attitude is to the success of an NFL cornerback.
“I’m always holding myself [accountable], I just want to be the best player that I know I can be,” Ward stated. “I’m just going to continue to try to improve and get better and be one of the best corners in the league by the end of the season. These last seven games, I’ve got to come out strong and be at my best.”
As for that fractured hand, it’s healing week by week. According to Ward, he’s feeling better about using it.
“The pain level is way, way down with the bye week.” Ward notified the press. “It was helpful for me. It gave me more time to heal and recover. Now I feel like I can throw it in there more, be more physical with my hands and I’m not worried about hurting it as much as I was the first couple of weeks when I did break it. Now I feel like I just have to get out of my mental slump. Physically, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.”
There was reason to inquire about Ward’s confidence in himself. After the Week 8 win over the New York Jets, the cornerback took to Twitter and publicly admitted his feelings on his own on-field play.
I’m in a slump..... I gotta come up out of it— Charvarius Ward (@itslilmooney) November 2, 2020
But all it took was a game against the Panthers and a week off for the starting defensive back to feel better about his current situation.
“I’m already out of the slump, man,” Ward revealed to reporters. “The slump is over with. I’m already out of the slump.
Like the team, Ward is in line for some revenge. He was on the wrong end of multiple big passes that helped the Raiders upset the Chiefs. He’s ready for the second go-around.
“We love playing the Raiders,” Ward assured. “It’s a divisional game, it’s a rivalry game. They got us the last time, so now we’re just going to come out this game and be at our best. Hopefully, we get our rematch and do what we’re supposed to do.
“They made some good plays. They came out on fire, they had a good game plan, seemed like they had an answer for a lot of the things we were doing. This week, we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We’re going to come out as our best this game.”
With an extra week to rest and prepare for Las Vegas, it’s fair to expect a much better showing from the Chiefs defense than what we saw in Week 5. Ward’s refreshed psyche should lead to a more focused-in, disciplined performance from him as well.