Browns special-teams ace Ray Ventrone accused the Baltimore Ravens of playing dirty Thursday night in their 23-16 win over visiting Cleveland.
But Ventrone wasn’t referring to Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe’s crushing blow to the helmet of Josh Cribbs during a punt return in the first quarter. Ventrone actually called it “a clean hit.”
However, Ventrone took exception to some things he said the Ravens’ offense did.
“They were playing dirty on offense,” Ventrone said today. “Watch the film, man. There was some dirty stuff going on.”
Ventrone declined to get into specifics. The Browns (0-4) will face the Ravens (3-1) in a rematch Nov. 4 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“There was just stuff that was happening after the play, during the play,” said Ventrone, who served as a captain Thursday and played four snaps at safety. “There was some unnecessary stuff that was happening to our defensive backs most specifically.”
Free safeties Usama Young and Tashaun Gipson left the game with knee injuries, but Ventrone said the injuries were not caused by the “dirty stuff.”
“No one was hurt by any of the stuff,” Ventrone said. “Thank God. But I think there were some cheap shots for sure.”
Ventrone has been with the Browns since 2009, so he’s accustomed to facing the AFC North rival Ravens twice a year. He said the “dirty stuff” wasn’t as prevalent in the past.
“I don’t think as much as it was this game,” Ventrone said. “Again, I don’t want to get into specifics just ‘cause I don’t want to be the guy to stir the pot. But I’m just saying I think they were doing a lot of extracurricular stuff.”
Cribbs suffered a concussion as a result of Ellerbe’s hit and traveled back to Cleveland with the team Thursday night, coach Pat Shurmur said.
“Josh is doing well today, much better than you might expect,” Shurmur said. “I talked to him at length on the plane last night, and he’s doing better than you might expect.”
Strong safety T.J. Ward left M&T Bank Stadium with a cast on his right hand. Shurmur said Ward injured his right thumb.
“He's being evaluated,” Shurmur said. “There's a chance we might have to do more evaluation.”
Ventrone has played the past two games with a cast protecting his surgically repaired left hand, which he broke Sept. 9 in the season opener. Shurmur said Ward could play with his injury and pointed to Ventrone as evidence.
“I’m playing on special teams with it, so those are high-impact plays and there’s a lot of hitting going on,” Ventrone said. “I played the last two games with it. So I know T.J.’s a tough kid, and we’ve got a decently long layoff [until the Oct. 7 game against the New York Giants], so hopefully things will work out well and he recovers fast and it’ll be up to the doctors and trainers to decide whether he’s able to play.”
Shurmur did not provide updates when asked about Young and Gipson.
“We’ll let the dust settle,” Shurmur said. “We’re doing work here today and then we’ll be back on the field practicing Monday, so we’ll see where everything’s at there.”
The Browns are 0-4 for the third time since 1999, but Shurmur tried his best today to exude optimism after a hard-fought loss to the Ravens.
“No gloom and doom here,” Shurmur said. “We're fighting in this next 10-day stretch to do what we can to go to New York and beat the Giants. … I’m confident our guys are gonna bust their tails the whole year, and all our efforts will be put into beating the Giants. That’s the little tunnel we live in and we’re at peace with that.”
Shurmur praised his players for battling the Ravens.
“They work extremely hard,” Shurmur said. “They play extremely hard. We need to play better. This is the group of guys I want to get this thing fixed with, and I told them that in the locker room last night. These are my guys and I’m glad they are.”
Shurmur confirmed linebacker Scott Fujita spent today in New York. Fujita met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for about an hour today regarding the New Orleans Saints’ bounty case.
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