BEREA — Browns cornerback Daven Holly hasn’t forgiven Steelers receiver Hines Ward for a late blindside block Sunday that drew a 15-yard penalty and left Holly with a concussion.
“I definitely have to think that was a heinous act by him,” Holly said Friday. “When you hit a man in his back when he’s not looking, he could’ve seriously hurt me.”
Holly pointed to his neck below the right ear as the spot where Ward drilled him. Holly said he was knocked unconscious, and he had to leave the game. He returned to practice in a limited capacity Thursday and was without restriction Friday. He’s listed as probable and said he’ll play Sunday vs. the Bengals.
“I’m back. I’m ready to go,” Holly said.
But his quick recovery and the league’s $5,000 fine of Ward on Friday didn’t ease the pain.
“I don’t feel it was a real respectful shot,” Holly said. “The game was well in hand for them. He kinda hit me with a shot I didn’t think was appropriate.
“It’s just the way he plays, him looking to clean the guy up. I should’ve been more alert for the hit, knowing how he plays. Next time I will be ready for him.”
Ward offered an apology through reporters following the game.
“I do apologize if it was late,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to hurt the guy.
“It was a clean hit. It was just a little bit late.”
Holly was asked if Ward apologized to him in the locker room after the game.
“He probably would’ve attempted to, but I had to go get checked out (by the medical staff),” Holly said. “I’m sure he would’ve apologized, but honestly I don’t think he would’ve meant it. Like I said, he hit me in the back. There’s no apology for that.”
Cornerback Leigh Bodden didn’t practice Friday and is listed as questionable (50-50) for Sunday. He hurt his groin during practice Thursday, but defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he expected him to play.
“Leigh got dinged up in practice, so he had to come out,” Grantham said before practice Friday. “To my knowledge he is going to be fine. He’s going to work on it and he’ll be ready to play on Sunday.”
Holly would get the start if Bodden can’t go.
Punter Dave Zastudil (back) and linebacker Antwan Peek (foot) are also questionable. Peek has a metal insert for his cleat, but said he’ll play vs. the Bengals.
Defensive lineman Shaun Smith was signed as a restricted free agent in the offseason after three years with the Bengals. The talkative Smith left many friends behind, including receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
“It’ll be the same, except I get to hit Carson (Palmer) for real and I get to tackle Rudi (Johnson) and talk trash to the O-line like I usually do,” Smith said. “I still talk to T.J. every day. I talked to Rudi yesterday. He wanted me to get him three tickets.”
Smith isn’t on such good terms with the Bengals front office.
“I felt like they should’ve kept me, but I’m onto bigger and better things in life,” he said. “I can’t hold it against them. They felt like I wasn’t worthy of keeping.”
Smith will play end and nose tackle in a rotation, and Palmer told Cincinnati reporters he expects plenty of trash talking.
“I know he’s going to be in my ear the whole time — if he’s in there,” Palmer said. “He’ll be going at it and jawing the whole time, and hopefully he’s a little bit out of shape. We’ll be running around a little bit and he won’t have enough air to be talking too much.”
Grantham was asked about the Patriots’ use of video equipment to spy on the opponent’s defensive signals.
“As far as guys looking over and stealing your signal, I don’t think that’s as unusual,” he said. “As far as equipment and such, I think that’s not normal. I would be surprised if it’s going on with a bunch of teams.”
The Browns play at New England on Oct. 7.
“Anytime you’re getting ready to play a team, you always say, ‘Hey, what do you have to be aware of,’” Grantham said. “I just think you have to mix it up with your signals so you aren’t consistent.”
The Browns signed defensive back A.J. Davis to the practice squad and waived defensive back Tim Mixon. Davis (5-foot-10, 193 pounds) was drafted by the Lions in the fourth round in April. He played at North Carolina State.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.