By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood called the Browns “classless” for the way they acted after knocking rookie quarterback EJ Manuel out of the game with an injured right knee in the third quarter Thursday night.
Wood singled out strong safety T.J. Ward for allegedly telling Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, his former teammate at the University of Oregon, that he should have warned Manuel that the defense was coming after him. Ward denied the claim Friday during a conference call less than 24 hours after the Browns defeated the Bills 37-24 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson hit Manuel’s right knee as he ran along the Bills’ sideline with 8:16 left in the third quarter. Gipson then looked at Manuel and repeatedly pumped his fist. Manuel is expected to be out a few weeks after suffering a sprained lateral collateral ligament that will not require surgery, Bills coach Doug Marrone said Friday.
“The hit was fine,” Wood told reporters Friday. “What ticked me off was the way they acted afterwards. I hope our defense never acts like that when they injure an opposing quarterback because, you know, you’ve got to show some class in that situation. There’s a few guys over there that obviously didn’t.
“You’ve got T.J. Ward yelling at Kiko [Alonso], you know, former college teammates, ‘I told you to warn him that we were going to get him.’ That’s classless. Every team’s probably got ’em, so I’m not going to say that nobody on our team has never done that. But it ticks you off when someone on the other team does it, for sure.”
Ward insisted Wood’s accusation wasn’t true.
“That is completely inaccurate,” Ward said. “I did speak to Kiko, and he went to Oregon with me. But anytime a player gets hurt, you never praise or root for players to get hurt. It’s competitive sport, a violent sport, but when you see players go down, no way in any shape or form it’s a celebration.”
When pressed on whether he told Alonso the Browns were coming after Manuel, Ward said, “No, I didn’t.”
Early in the first quarter, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during an awkward slide at the end of an 11-yard run. Alonso hit Hoyer in the helmet as he slid.
Alonso was not penalized for the hit, but should he have been?
“It was close,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “I don’t think there was any intention there. Brian was sliding, and as he was sliding, there was the contact. That was just an unfortunate thing. I think he just got caught up.”
After the game, Gipson said he didn’t try to hurt Manuel but acknowledged pumping his fist wasn’t in good taste.
“I’m not a dirty player,” Gipson said. “I definitely wouldn’t dare try to hurt nobody intentionally. That’s not the kind of player I am. My prayers go out to him. Hopefully, it’s not too serious. At the same time, it’s the game of football. It’s intense. It’s grown-man football. But my best wishes to him, and I hope it’s not too serious. ... My gesture at the end probably didn’t suit [the situation] well.”
Chudzinski said starting right defensive end Desmond Bryant is fine and is expected to play Oct. 13 against the Detroit Lions despite being removed from Thursday’s game because he experienced shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. Bryant was taken to the Cleveland Clinic for precautionary reasons and released Friday.
“He had some shortness of breath, an irregular heartbeat,” Chudzinski said. “So we took him to the hospital. He stayed overnight as a precaution. He’s fine. Everything is back to normal. I’m not expecting any issues going forward.”
Chudzinski isn’t sure at which point in the game Bryant began experiencing the symptoms.
When Bryant played for the Oakland Raiders last season, he left a game Nov. 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an accelerated heartbeat. He then played the next week.
“We’re taking precautions and steps so that it doesn’t happen again,” Chudzinski said.
Chudzinski said fullback Chris Ogbonnaya is going through the league’s concussion protocol. Ogbonnaya suffered a concussion when he absorbed a hit to the helmet early in the second quarter while trying to catch a tipped pass.
The Bills cut punter Shawn Powell a day after Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin set a franchise record with 179 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown, on seven punt returns. … Rookie defensive end Armonty Bryant, a seventh-round pick, had his first career sack Thursday and received praise from his coach. “He did a great job,” Chudzinski said. “He was able to put pressure on the quarterback. He got a sack. He had a chance for a couple other ones.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.