Jordan Shipley, the best man in Colt McCoy's wedding and his best friend from the University of Texas, lay in the end zone with his eyes rolling back in his head.
But as Browns rookie quarterback McCoy watched what happened to the Bengals rookie slot receiver, he found no fault with the teammate who hit him. Even though the blow safety T.J. Ward delivered left Shipley with a concussion and drew a $15,000 fine from the NFL.
On Wednesday, McCoy defended Ward, saying he didn't realize cornerback Eric Wright had already broken up the pass.
"I don't think T.J. knew the ball was already on the ground. He can't see it from that angle,'' McCoy said. ''I thought it was a great play. It's unfortunate that he got hurt.
"It's part of the game. Jordan knows, he's played receiver his whole life. There's a chance that when you go across the middle, that you're gonna have to take a big shot, a big lick, and he got one. That's part of the game. You're gonna get hit. We all know that. We signed up for it.''
While the Bengals are still claiming it was a cheap shot, McCoy didn't think so.
''Naw. I've known T.J. for a long time. He's one of my teammates. He's in my rookie class. He would never do anything to intentionally hurt somebody,'' McCoy said.
McCoy said the Bengals should have gotten a hint of what kind of player Ward is from the previous three games. A second-round pick, Ward had the reputation as a big hitter at the University of Oregon.
''As a quarterback you have so many reads and progressions that you go through, obviously they've got to know that T.J.'s a nosy safety,'' McCoy said. "He likes to come down. He fills the run holes. He's a great hitter.
"When you have a guy like that, you try to get him sucked down with play action. You try to get them out of their game so you can go across the middle and hit some plays deep. Down there in the red zone, it's so tight. You can't really do much about it.''
McCoy didn't seem to find it awkward that he was defending a teammate delivering a violent blow to his best friend.
''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,'' McCoy said.
That said, McCoy may have not seen Shipley absorb the kind of blow Ward delivered.
''I don't know about that,'' McCoy said. ''That's a pretty good shot. But he takes a lot of hits in general playing the slot.''
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