BEREA, Ohio - T.J. Ward's "cheap shot" was costly.
For delivering a nasty blow to an opponent's head, the NFL belted the Browns' rookie safety in the wallet.
Ward, who in just four games as a pro has developed a reputation as a ferocious tackler and fearless talker, was fined $15,000 Wednesday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cincinnati wide receiver Jordan Shipley during the fourth quarter of the Browns' win on Sunday.
Ward confirmed he was fined, but he would not divulge the amount. However, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that the league assessed Ward the $15,000 penalty for ramming Shipley, who was knocked out briefly and sustained a concussion. The league will not announce its discipline on Ward until Friday.
A split-second after Shipley failed to catch a pass from Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer in the end zone, Ward unloaded on the rookie wideout, sending him sprawling to the turf. Ward claims he led with his right shoulder, but TV replays clearly show him making contact with Shipley's helmet.
"I just tried to make a play and unfortunately he got hurt," Ward said before practice. "It's part of the violent game we play. If you play that position, it kind of comes with the territory."
The Bengals weren't pleased and after the game, both Palmer and wide receiver Terrell Owens accused Ward of a dirty play.
"I just hate to see a guy get hit like that in the head," Owens said. "For him to take a cheap shot like that, that's uncalled for."
Browns coach Eric Mangini defended Ward, saying it was an aggressive play - nothing more.
Owens countered with a personal shot at Mangini.
"Look who it's coming from," Owens told Bengals teammate Chad Ochocinco in an interview on VERSUS. "Probably 90 percent of his players don't like him [Mangini] anyway. "I don't like him. We got to see him again anyway, so we'll see who's going to do some cheap shots next game."
The Browns visit the Bengals on Dec. 19.
Ward insists he didn't intentionally try to injure Shipley. As he came across the end zone, Ward said he saw the ball and Shipley and acted instinctively.
"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."
With the league determined to clean up unnecessary contact to player's head in the wake of new studies on concussions, Ward may need to closely monitor his future on-field conduct.
Undersized at 5-foot-10, Ward made Oregon's team as a walk-on. He played 37 games for the Ducks, catching the eye of pro scouts because of his ability to punish running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks. He never backed off, and he has no plans to stop playing the only way he knows.
Ward was aware that Mike Pereira, former NFL vice president of officiating, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the league should fine the 23-year-old a minimum of $25,000 for a hit he described as "one of the worst I've seen in a while."
The Browns haven't had a defensive back who could hit like Ward since safety Eric Turner in the 1990s. Mangini wants his team to be physical, and from experience, he knows that having a safety who can deliver knee-buckling hits can make receivers wary of coming over the middle.
PACKERS: Green Bay could be without both starting safeties at Washington, and linebacker Nick Barnett might be facing an extended absence.
The Packers already know they will be without rookie safety Morgan Burnett, who tore his ACL and is out for the season. Veteran safety Nick Collins sat out practice because of a nagging knee injury and his status is unclear.
Barnett has a wrist injury there is a possibility that he could be out for an extended period of time. Barnett and linebacker Brandon Chillar, who has a shoulder injury, both are getting second opinions this week.
SAINTS: New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter will be out three to four weeks after arthroscopic surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his left knee.
REDSKINS: Washington's Clinton Portis will be out at least a month with a groin injury, putting the two-time Pro Bowl running back's future in doubt once again.
Portis has a third degree separation of the left groin, with the muscle separated off the bone. Portis will not require surgery.
He has run for only 195 yards on 49 carries this season. He's 109 yards shy of 10,000 for his career and is 680 away from breaking John Riggins' franchise rushing record.41.36507 -81.85258
T.J. Ward's "cheap shot" was costly.