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Daily Jolt: Monday, Dec. 9: Ward chose to target Gronkowski low

Monday, December 9
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Ward chose to target Gronk low

Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward made a call in real time, at NFL speed. [Ward], whose crushing hit on the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski that took the tight end out of the game, said he made a conscious decision on where to target him because he was concerned about the possibility of being fined. "I think they ran a seam route and I closed on the pass," Ward said. "It was a decision I made, and just to make a tackle on a big man. Unfortunately, he got hurt, but if I would have hit him up high, there's a chance that I would get fined and all that other stuff, so I'm just being safe." It's not an easy decision, Ward said. The sheer size of Gronkowski (listed at 6-6, 265 pounds) has a player like him re-think how to attempt to take player like him down. "It's kind of being caught between a rock and a hard place," he said. (The Boston Globe) Comment

OU's Stoops says McCarron is nation's best

Apart from watching a few games on television, Bob Stoops hasn't seen much of Alabama, and he certainly hasn't broken down a ton of tape. He has 24 days left until the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl to fully prepare himself for everything the Crimson Tide has to offer. The Oklahoma coach, though, has seen more than enough of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron to come to an immediate, definitive conclusion. "I think AJ McCarron's the best player in the country," Stoops said on Sunday's Sugar Bowl teleconference. "I really do. If I had a (Heisman) vote, that's who I'd vote for." ... Stoops bristled when he was asked about his controversial offseason comments about the SEC, but he had nothing but praise for the Crimson Tide, which he described as "just incredible" during a run of three national championships in four seasons. (AL.com) Comment

Trout will cost Angels dearly

As the holiday season nears, it's unlikely a giant prize awaits the Angels this offeason. Santa brought Albert Pujols to Anaheim two Decembers ago and Josh Hamilton last December, but to this point owner Arte Moreno has mandated his team remain under the luxury-tax limit. After all, the limit goes no higher next year, when Mike Trout cashes in. In 2014, the final season in which the Angels can pay Trout whatever they like, he figures to get between $500,000 and $600,000. He then becomes eligible for salary arbitration. The highest salary awarded to a player through the arbitration process is $10 million. Trout could get $15 million in his first year of arbitration, $20 million his second year and $25 million his third and final year, according to a person familiar with the process. (Los Angeles Times) Comment

Must-See Photo
Must-See Photo

Kobe Bryant played his first game of the season on Sunday, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Must-See Video

Breaking down the BCS matchups

This Day in Sports
SI Vault: More Eric Dickerson
  • 1984 -- Eric Dickerson breaks O.J. Simpson's NFL rushing record.
  • 2006 -- Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson wins his 1,200th game.
  • 2007 -- Florida's Tim Tebow becomes the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy.
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