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Browns' safety Ward upset over fine for hit

Browns' safety Ward upset over fine for hit

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns safety T.J. Ward opened the letter from the NFL and quickly scanned it for one important detail: the price of his punishment.

Once he located that number, he moved on.

``I didn't want it to ruin the rest of my day,'' he said.

Ward was fined $25,000 for an illegal hit he delivered on Sunday against Dallas wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, a penalty the hard-hitting defensive back is appealing and one he insists was well within the league's rules on helmet-to-helmet contact. Ward said replays conclusively show he did not touch any part of Ogletree's head.

``I think it was completely legal,'' Ward said. ``I aimed for his chest. I hit him in his chest. He was falling forward. No part of my helmet hit his helmet. No part of my shoulder pad hit his helmet. If it did hit at any part, it was probably the aftereffect or the end of the hit. I think it was just a blown call and a blown punishment.''

Ward, who was fined $15,000 in 2010 for a nasty hit on Cincinnati wide receiver Jordan Shipley, was called for unnecessary roughness for the shot on Ogletree. The 15-yard personal foul aided the Cowboys' drive that set up a game-tying field goal in the closing seconds of regulation. Dallas went on to win 23-20 in overtime.

Ogletree sustained a concussion and has been ruled out of Thursday's game against Washington. Browns cornerback Buster Skrine also suffered a concussion during the play when he collided with Ogletree just after Ward delivered his blow. Skrine did not practice and Browns coach Pat Shurmur said the second-year player ``is going through the (concussion) process.''

Ward was adamant he did nothing wrong. He said the crackdown on hits to the head is making it tough for him - or any defensive player - to be aggressive.

``It's ridiculous,'' he said. ``I could see if I came under him, like the Shipley hit. By the rules, I deserved that fine. I hit him under his helmet, under his face mask. This one, not at all. I hit him in his chest. Freeze frame, you can see the pictures and everything, it's in his chest. My head is completely to the side. It's almost like he's over my shoulder.''

Ward's fine came one day after Baltimore safety Ed Reed's one-game suspension for several helmet-to-helmet hits was reduced to a $50,000 fine.

Reed had been suspended one game without pay for his third violation in three seasons against defenseless players. On Sunday night, Reed drilled Pittsburgh wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Ward was also fined for being a repeat offender, which he finds illogical.

``I could see if it was a repeat offense in the same year, that makes sense,'' he said. ``But repeat offense from three years ago? C'mon, man.''

Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron defended Ward, who was flagged in a Nov. 4 game for striking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the head. He was not fined for that hit. Jauron said he won't instruct Ward to play any differently, but he said it is becoming increasingly difficult to coach players on what's acceptable.

``I think just keep doing what he's doing. I saw the replays multiple times and I didn't see any head-to-head contact on that play,'' Jauron said. ``I don't know if anybody else did. I don't know what you tell him. They have to figure it out. I don't know what you tell the defensive player today.''

Ward believes Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials are taking the correct steps in trying to minimize hits to the head in order to improve player safety.

However, he believes the rules changes have given offensive players an unfair advantage and that defenders are being unfairly judged on plays where split-second decisions are made.

``I think the quarterbacks are just as responsible as us,'' he said. ``They throw the balls, they try to fit them into tight spots and we have to react. If you look at it, defensive players are fined way more than offensive players. We're put in the worst predicaments. We can't hit them. We can't grab them. We can't do anything. It's hard to play football and it's very hard to play defense.''

Ward intended to hit Ogletree low, knowing that any contact near the head could be penalized.

``I aimed at a certain spot and he continued to fall,'' he said. ``He fell right into me. It was almost a protection of myself. I just turned my shoulder. I didn't really even explode into him. It's a bind. I could see if I was running from the middle of the field and he was running a slant or something and I just hit him underneath his chin, but that wasn't the case at all.''

Ward doesn't think he's a marked man, but conceded his reputation as a big hitter may influence calls. He said some officiating crews seem more inclined to call penalties for high hits. He watched Sunday's Baltimore-Pittsburgh game and felt there were similar shots to the one he laid on Ogletree that weren't whistled.

Ward said Goodell's push to minimize head hits is noble, but he doesn't think it's making much of a difference in an inherently violent sport.

``The funny thing is, it won't change it,'' he said. ``Things are going to happen. The next thing is you're going to see guys with blown out knees because they're going to start to get hit low and before you know it, that's going to be illegal and we'll start getting fined for that. You can't hit quarterbacks below the knee. I think it's taking away from the game.''

NOTES: Browns CB Joe Haden returned to practice after missing last week's game with an oblique injury. Shurmur hopes to have Haden back for Sunday's game against the Steelers, who will start 37-year-old quarterback Charlie Batch. ... CB Dimitri Patterson did not practice. He had hoped to test an ankle injury that has sidelined him for five games. ... Undrafted special teamer Johnson Bademosi was picked to be the fourth captain for this week's game. Because of injuries, he took snaps at cornerback for the first time against the Cowboys.

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Retired Steve Smith Sr. not interested in working out with current players

Retired Steve Smith Sr. not interested in working out with current players

Since announcing his retirement, former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. says numerous players are expressing a desire to train with him this offseason.

It’s understandable why players would want to be mentored by Smith, after his brilliant 16-year career.

But while Smith has the time, he does not have the desire.

“People have been calling me, ‘Hey, wanted to work out…let’s watch some film…I need to work on some releases,”’ Smith said to James Lofton and Brad Hopkins on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

“I had some DB’s calling me, ‘Hey, you can give me some line work’, and all that stuff. When I was at the Super Bowl…I had probably about three or four people text me, saying, ‘Hey, let’s get up’, and I had some agents call me for their guy to help them work their guy out, get him prepared for the combine.

“And I had to take a step back and I said, ‘You know what? If I do all these things, now I’m getting my mind and body to say I can still play.

“So I had to text some guys and say, ‘You know what? I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to watch film with you and work out and train with you because that means I’m telling myself and my family I’m about to go play again. And I don’t want to go through that process. I’m done playing.’

“So if I’m training anybody, their last name is Smith, meaning my kids. I’m just going to love on them, and that training is less intense. The goal is so lesser. It’s, ‘Hey, let’s make sure we’re drinking water, fluid, and all that stuff.’ Out there, when you’re training for ball, it’s a different animal. So I said, ‘No.’’’

Smith sounds determined not to play anymore. He recently signed with NFL Network as an analyst, and he has not given any mixed signals about his desire to start a new chapter in his life.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said at the “State of the Ravens’’ press conference that if Smith wanted to return, the door was open.

However, Smith seems content to keep that door closed.  

RELATED: THE BEST OF STEVE SMITH SR. TRASH TALK

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Former Ravens RB Trent Richardson arrested on domestic violence charge

Former Ravens RB Trent Richardson arrested on domestic violence charge

Former Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson, who was signed by the Ravens in April 2016, was arrested Thursday night in Hoover, Ala. on a domestic violence charge, according to Hoover police.

Richardson, who was drafted by the Browns with No 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, joined the Ravens during the 2016 offseason before being waived prior to the start of training camp in August.

According to the report, Richardson was arrested following an incident at the Hyatt Place Hotel and was charged with one count of third-degree domestic violence. 

The argument between Richardson and the women began at a nearby Walmart before the altercation turned physical. 

RELATED: RICHARDSON DISCUSSES FAMILY FREELOADING

"Officers were able to make contact with an adult male and adult female who were involved in a domestic altercation," police said in the official release.

"After interviewing both parties it was determined that the two individuals had been arguing earlier while at the Walmart on John Hawkins Parkway and that the dispute continued after they arrived back at the hotel. At some point the situation turned physical and the female sustained injuries (scratches and bruising) about her face."

Richardson's NFL career has been wrought with disappointment.  He played just 17 games for the Browns — averaging 3.6 yards per carry—  before he was traded to the Colts in 2013. His numbers declined even more, and he was released at the end of the 2014 season. He spent the 2015 offseason with the Raiders, but was released before the beginning of the Regular season.

Richardson's last appearance in a regular season NFL game took place in a December 2014 Colts' victory over the Patriots in which he ran for 11 yards on six carries.

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