By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns strong safety T.J. Ward isn’t backing down from the comments he made Sunday after a 27-11 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ward repeatedly criticized the offense for its “turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.” He said the defense also needed to tally takeaways, but he directed most of the blame at the offense by emphasizing its four turnovers against the Steelers.
On Monday, coach Rob Chudzinski said he urged the team to stick together after reading Ward’s quotes. Defensive captain and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said Ward needed to do a better job of controlling his emotions when speaking and he was sure Ward regretted his rant.
But guess what?
“No, I don’t regret it,” Ward said Wednesday. “DQ, he’s a great player, a great captain, but I don’t regret what I said. I said what I meant at that time. I was frustrated of course, but if it happened again, I probably would say the same thing. It’s the truth, that’s how I felt and it’s no negative tone towards anybody but the entire team. And that’s where I was coming from. Me, myself, personally, special teams, offense, defense, we’re not winning games as a whole, and that’s where I came from with that statement.
“But I did say we’re not creating as many turnovers as well. I have complete faith in the offense and what they’re doing. That was the entire interview, but only a little bit got captured, and that’s what was focused on. But it’s all about winning here. I love my teammates. They’re doing a great job. We just can’t turn the ball over and win games.”
The Browns have gone 18-41 since they drafted Ward in the second round in 2010. He’s clearly tired of losing, so it’s fair to wonder whether he wants to sign with another team. He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11.
“I want to win, and I think we have the pieces here to win,” Ward said. “That’s what I want at the end of the day. I want to win ballgames whether it’s here or somewhere else. Hopefully it’s here. I just want to win.
“This is my home. I’ve been here for four years. Everybody knows I’m from California. But I’m playing here and I’m a Cleveland Brown and until otherwise, I’m going to play it out here.”
The Browns could place their franchise tag on Ward or center Alex Mack to keep one of them from hitting free agency. Ward, though, spoke as if he expects to hit the open market.
“I’m definitely going to give the Browns the first shot,” Ward said. “But it depends on them. It’s all on them. It’s out of my hands.”
As for Ward’s comments, Chudzinski believes the team has moved on.
“This team is a very, very close team,” Chudzinski said. “I haven’t been around one that’s closer. There’s really not finger-pointing going on. I think sometimes those things can be taken the wrong way. I spoke to that the other day. Certainly, there’s things we need to improve on and get better at, and we’ll continue to do that. As far as the team and the chemistry of the team, there’s no issues there.”
Starting inside linebacker Craig Robertson (sprained knee) and his primary backup Tank Carder (sprained shoulder) did not practice Wednesday and aren’t sure if they’ll be ready to face the Jaguars.
“It’ll be a game-time decision,” Robertson, who was hurt when he took a helmet to his right knee Nov. 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals, said of his status. “I feel good now, so we’ll see throughout the week.”
Carder said he’s not sure how long he’ll be sidelined after injuring his shoulder Sunday while engaging a running back trying to block him.
If Robertson and Carder can’t play, rookie Darius Eubanks is expected to fill in like he did against the Steelers after Carder was hurt in the first half.
“I really thought that he stepped in and did a nice job,” Chudzinski said of Eubanks. “There’s obviously some things that he can improve on that we can correct, but it was encouraging to see him come in, understand what he needed to do and play well for that position coming in.”
Chip on the shoulder
New Browns quarterback Alex Tanney said he kind of regrets doing the YouTube trick-shot video that went viral two years ago and made him famous because he thinks people assume it’s the only reason he’s in the NFL.
“I like to think that I’m here because of the skills on the field, not throwing into garbage cans,” Tanney said.
Chudzinski said the Browns worked out other quarterbacks before opting to sign Tanney off the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.
Starting cornerback Buster Skrine (bruised ribs) and backup tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday. … In addition to Robertson and Carder, quarterback Jason Campbell (concussion) did not practice. Chudzinski said Campbell was not at the team’s facility Wednesday. … The Browns re-signed wide receiver Brian Tyms to the practice squad and released offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren from the practice squad. … Chudzinski said starting offensive right tackle Mitchell Schwartz’s season has been “up and down a little bit. I really felt like he’s made a lot of progress. [But] he had some struggles this week.” … Chudzinski praised Mack, who has played all 4,671 snaps at center since he was drafted in 2009, but declined to discuss whether the team would like to re-sign him. “I think that Alex is an outstanding player,” Chudzinski said. “He’s physical. He can move.” … Chudzinski said the team will have a modified practice scheduled on Thanksgiving.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.