Ward nailed wide receivers Devard Darling and Brian Bratton with a series
crushing blows along with rookie tight end Quinn Sypniewski, but clearly crossed
the line when he decked tight end Daniel Wilcox after the football had sailed
incomplete and the play was clearly over. He was immediately admonished by
defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and secondary coach Mark Carrier.
"It was a cheap shot," Wilcox said. "I know what he's trying to do, but you've got to be smarter than that. We're on the same team."
On the ensuing play, Wilcox shoved Ward and slung him to the ground as retaliation. When Ward threw an errant punch at Wilcox, Billick had seen enough.
Billick grabbed Ward, lectured him loudly in his face and shoved the second-year defensive back. Billick waved his hand in a disgusted, dismissive gesture.
Subsequently, Billick halted practice and screamed at the entire team, at one point yelling, "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"
Afterward, Billick stressed that he felt his message had gotten across to Ward, a 6-foot-3, 208-pound hit man from Florida State who made the team a year ago in part because of his aggressive tactics.
"I think he learned some things today that are going to be very important," Billick said. "I don't think he has any mistake in what it was I was saying to him. You stress it to everybody and it wasn't just a matter of taking a period a little more physical than we intended."
Ward said he apologized to Billick and said the incident is now behind him.
"It was just a big misunderstanding," Ward said. "It's just playing football and it's all between the lines. I always want to hit and that's what I'm here to do.
"I apologized to coach Billick and tried to smooth everything out and get back to where it should be."
Meanwhile, several players were held out of practice, including: cornerback Samari Rolle (sprained knee), wide receivers Mark Clayton (strained hamstring) and Demetrius Williams (sprained hamstring), cornerback David Pittman (strained hamstring), tight end Bobby Blizzard (back) and wide receiver Clarence Moore (hernia), who remains on the physically unable to perform list.
The injuries to Rolle, Clayton and Williams aren't regarded as serious.
Corey Ivy worked with the first defense at cornerback in Rolle's place and Darling started at wide receiver.
Running back Cory Ross (strained hamstring) returned to practice, and former Pro Bowl running back Jamal Lewis was held out of contact drills
"It's just precautionary until we get him into a full rhythm," Billick said. "We want to make sure we're being smart."
Aaron Wilson writes for Ravens Insider and the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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