The NFL has fined Browns S T.J. Ward $15,000 for hitting Bengals WR Jordan Shipley in the helmet in Cleveland's 23-20 win over Cincinnati on Sunday, according to multiple media outlets.
Ward, a second-round pick from Oregon, hit Shipley in the endzone on a third-down incompletion with Cincinnati trailing 23-13 in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Ward drew a personal-foul penalty on the play, and the Bengals scored a touchdown to cut the Cleveland lead to a field goal on the next play.
Ward leads the Browns with 32 tackles.
The way we see it
According to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Ward explained his hit the following way Sunday: "I just want to let it be known that it wasn't malicious intent to knock him out or to get him hurt. I just reacted to what I saw and tried to make a play. The way it happened, I didn't really try to hit him with everything I had, but still it was a pretty violent hit. I wasn't trying to aim for his helmet in any way. I just hit what I saw. It all happened so fast."
That said, Ward told reporters after the game Sunday that he would not alter his style of play, and head coach Eric Mangini wants him to be an intimidator — within the rules.
"He's had some big hits on a lot of guys, and that's a good thing," Mangini said Wednesday, according to the team. "Legally, you want guys to think, 'OK, if I catch this in-cut, there's going to be a price to pay for catching this in-cut.' If you can establish that, then sometimes guys will get 'alligator arms' or they won't run those angles quite as deep or as tight. No one will ever talk about that. No one would ever admit, 'Man I don't really want to go in there.' If you can get an understanding with receivers, it helps."