June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Safety sticks by comments

Scott Petrak

The Gazette

BEREA — Strong safety T.J. Ward wouldn’t take back a word.

“I don’t regret what I said,” he said Wednesday. “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.”

Ward’s postgame comments after the 27-11 to the Steelers on Sunday drew the attention of the media and coach Rob Chudzinski, who addressed his team Monday about the need to stick together. Ward repeatedly brought up the offense’s four turnovers as the main reason for the loss.

“That’s why we’re losing. You can’t win ballgames turning the ball over,” he said.

“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Ward said Wednesday. “I didn’t target my teammates, I didn’t point anybody out. I just stated a fact and my teammates know where I’m coming from with that statement. It was never to down-talk anybody on my team. We’re all in this together. We’re a family, so speaking within the family, if something’s not right or something’s going wrong, I’m going to speak up.”

Linebacker and captain D’Qwell Jackson understood the frustration but said Monday Ward’s got to do better “controlling those emotions” and “I’m sure he regrets it.”

Ward wouldn’t admit that.

“DQ, he’s a great player, a great captain, but I don’t regret what I said,” Ward said. “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.”

Chudzinski believes the team has moved past the postgame frustration.

“This team is a very, very close team,” he 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. As far as the team and the chemistry of the team, there’s no issues there.”

No contract talk

These are interesting times for Ward. He has five games left on his rookie contract, is set to become a free agent in March and said he hasn’t heard from the Browns regarding an extension.

“No, not disappointed. When they want to talk to me, then we’ll talk,” he said. “Until then I’m going to play the rest of this contract. I signed a four-year contract, so they’re really not obligated to do anything until this contract is up.”

Ward is having a good year, with 89 tackles (second on the team), 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, a touchdown and five passes defensed. He will likely draw considerable interest on the free-agent market and get a significant deal.

“I’m definitely going to give the Browns the first shot,” he said. “But it depends on them. It’s all on them. If they want me back, they’ll let me know.”

Ward said his frustration with losing – the Browns are 18-41 in his four years – won’t drive him out of town.

“I want to win. And I think we have the pieces here to win,” he said. “This is my home. I’ve been here for four years.”

Get over it

Backup quarterback Alex Tanney (6-foot-3, 223 pounds), signed Tuesday off Dallas’ practice squad, wants to move past the trick-shot video that made him an Internet sensation with more than 3 million views on YouTube.

“Was that the third question it took before it came up?” he said. “No, it was just spur-of-the-moment and it went viral.

“I’ve heard so much about it. It’s just kind of old to me. But I like to think that I’m here because of the skills on the field, not throwing into garbage cans.”

Tanney, who said he was called “Trick Shot” by some teammates in Kansas City, wants to be judged on his own merits. He threw with a tight spiral and a lot of velocity during the portion of practice open to the media.

Chudzinski said the Browns considered a number of quarterbacks before deciding on Tanney. Assistant general manager Ray Farmer and Tanney were together last year in Kansas City. The Chiefs signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Division III Monmouth College and he spent the season on injured reserve (finger).

With Jason Campbell (concussion) all but ruled out for the game Sunday against Jacksonville, Tanney must get himself ready in case Brandon Weeden gets hurt.

“I’m excited for this opportunity. I’ve got to get my head in the playbook,” Tanney said. “There’s definitely some different wrinkles in the system but there’s some similarities from Dallas.”

Chudzinski said the similar terminology should make the transition smoother.

Injury report

Inside linebackers Craig Robertson (knee) and Tank Carder (shoulder) didn’t practice, along with Campbell. Robertson said he’ll be a gametime decision.

“I feel good now, so we’ll see throughout the week,” he said.

Carder said it was too early to tell if he’ll be available. He hurt the back of his shoulder Sunday in an awkward collision with the running back and was forced to leave the game.

“I went in and the running back came to block me and I kinda went to shoulder him and got my wrist caught up in him and my shoulder kicked up,” Carder said. “It hurts because you feel like you’re letting your coaches down.”

Rookie Darius Eubanks would start alongside Jackson if Robertson and Carder can’t play.

l Cornerback Buster Skrine (ribs), tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring), defensive end Armonty Bryant (back) and receiver Josh Cooper (illness) were limited. Gray returned to practice after missing two games.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.