Browns rookie safety T.J. Ward has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley this past Sunday, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday.
During the Browns' open locker room session Wednesday before practice, Ward said he had not yet heard from the league about a fine. Shipley suffered a concussion as a result of the collision. Ward was penalized for a personal foul.
"I want to let it be known that it wasn't malicious intent to knock him out or get him hurt," Ward said. "(It's) part of the game. I reacted to what I saw and tried to make a play."
The play occurred on third-and-goal with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Browns cornerback Eric Wright covered Shipley as he ran a route into the end zone. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threw to Shipley, and as the pass fell incomplete, part of Ward's helmet and shoulder pad violently smashed into Shipley's helmet.
"It's the nature of the game," Ward said. "No, I'm not going to change the way I play. I guess I'll ... I don't know what I'm going to do. It's instincts. You can't really stop doing what comes naturally. We'll see."
The penalty gave the Bengals a first down. They scored on the following play to trim their deficit to three points, but the Browns held on to win 23-20.
Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy and Shipley played together at the University of Texas, and Shipley was the best man in McCoy's wedding this past summer. McCoy said Ward's hit is part of the game.
"It's football," McCoy said. "It's a violent sport. We all know that there's gonna be contact. There's gonna be big hits. It's unfortunate for him. Nobody ever wants to get hurt, and nobody ever wants to hurt anybody. It was a good hit. It was unfortunate he got hurt, but I've known T.J. for a long time. He's one of my great friends. He's in my rookie class. We get along great. We're teammates. He wasn't trying to hurt him. He's just playing the game. It's a physical sport. He made a big play. There was no touchdown. It was just bad that Shipley got hurt."
Ward said the controversial hit could have positive and negative results.
"Maybe receivers might end up short-arming the ball or certain routes won't be getting thrown," he said. "Things like that."
"I can't lay those kind of hits," he said. "I'm worried about the repercussions from the league."