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Mangini says T.J. Ward isn’t dirty, but acknowledges his hit on Shipley wasn’t clean

On Monday, Browns safety T.J. Ward defended his big hit on Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley by saying that he led with his shoulder and that “I would do it again.”

In a scientific poll with a margin of error of 0.02 percent, 55.01 percent of you agreed that it wasn’t a cheap shot.

Count Browns coach Eric Mangini among those who think that Ward did nothing wrong.

“T.J. is not a dirty guy,” Mangini said Monday, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s a young guy. He’s an aggressive guy, and he’s an inexperienced guy, but he’s not a dirty guy. He’s a good person. He’s a good kid. I’m not going to try to take anything off of the way that he plays because I think it’s a real strength, but there are things that he’ll learn to do even better within the framework of what we all have to play with.”

That last observation from Mangini indicates that Ward was not “within the framework” of the rules when he tried to remove Shipley’s head from the framework of his torso.

“I don’t want to see our guys hitting guys in the head when they’re defenseless,” Mangini said. “We can be just as tough and do it in the framework of how it’s supposed to be. You like physical play, but you can’t put the team in that situation where you give them a new set of downs.”

Far more important than the new set of downs is the elimination of situation in which football players have to acquire a new set of memories. Even though Ward used his shoulder, he hit Shipley in the head. The NFL has beefed up in 2010 its efforts to protect players from head injuries, and hitting a guy who just caught a pass in the head is going to draw a flag and a fine more often than not in large part because, more often than not, it’s also going to cause a concussion.