With his starting job on the line, outside linebacker Peter Boulware came out swinging - leading with his ailing right arm.
On Tuesday, the Ravens expressed concern over Boulware favoring his surgically repaired right shoulder and said they didn't want to risk starting him if he felt any limitation physically. So after testing his shoulder during a two-hour practice yesterday, the two-time Pro Bowl linebacker spent 15 minutes on his own, ramming it into a tackling dummy, a padded goal post and a blocking sled.
Does Boulware think he pounded out any progress?
"I think I did," Boulware said. "I think the main thing today I was completely focused on it and making sure. When I lined up, I was saying in my mind: I've got to use this thing. That's what I got to do, constantly make an effort. Even though it may not feel right, I've got to force myself to get it done and use it."
Boulware doesn't want to use his shoulder as an excuse for his struggles the first four games. But he has just 10 tackles and two sacks while playing in what he called "survival mode."
If a running back has charged at him, Boulware hesitated at putting his arm out because that usually resulted in a dislocated shoulder a year ago. When he has lined over a tight end for a pass rush, he tried to drive past him using just his left arm since that's what he has trained himself to do for an entire season.
Boulware, though, has shown urgency to change since talking with the coaches.
"I'll say this, I want to start," Boulware said. "I want to be out there playing. It's a matter of us winning. If I can't go out there and help the team like I should, then I shouldn't be out there, point blank."
And he wants to make sure that his starting status isn't solely left up to the coaching staff.
"Indirectly, I think it rests with me," Boulware said. "If I go out there and practice well and do what I got to do and prove I can use my arm, then it's definitely up to me. If I go out there and prove that I can't do it and it shows on film that I'm a little tentative, then sure the coaches are going to say, 'Based on what we've seen, you still need some time to get ready.'
"That's what the decision is based on, how I'm going to practice. It's going to be one of those things where I'm going to play and show them through practice am I ready or not."
The Ravens had their lengthiest injury report of the season: defensive tackle Tony Siragusa (neck spasms), right tackle Harry Swayne (ankle sprain), long snapper Frank Wainright (back), backup quarterback Trent Dilfer (knee), linebacker Cornell Brown (thigh) and tight end John Jones (knee) are questionable for Sunday's game in Cleveland.
Siragusa and Wainright, who had a magnetic resonance imaging test yesterday for nerve root irritation in his back, were the only players who did not practice. Swayne, who estimated that 900 pounds landed on his ankle last Sunday, had limited action and didn't participate in team contact drills.
Siragusa injured his neck when Bengals guard Matt O'Dwyer jerked his face mask last Sunday. Three plays later, Siragusa threw down O'Dwyer's helmet, drawing a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Team trainer Bill Tessendorf said he doesn't anticipate anyone missing Sunday's game.
Punter Kyle Richardson's 33.3-yard net average may rank last in the AFC, but his attitude has not bottomed out.
He will continue to stick to his normal routine and chalks up the past two games as unique circumstances. After four punts in the rain and mud of Miami, he had to wait until the fourth quarter for his only attempt last Sunday.
"I haven't been able to get off this mediocrity," said Richardson, whose 40.3 average distance is 2 yards lower than last year. "I have high goals for myself. I'm confident I'll work through things. It's not an easy time right now for me, but I'm going to work through it."
In the past three games, opponents have punted either out of bounds or in the end zone eight times while punting at returner Jermaine Lewis only twice. Lewis, though, has made the most of his few opportunities, averaging 12.4 yards, third best in the AFC.
"There's a difference in Jermaine, in the way he's attacking when he does have a chance," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Again, part of the problem is the respect people have for Jermaine, they're kicking away. We're in a division where there are a lot of good directional punters. But he's going to pop one pretty soon."
The Ravens are the only NFL team to have two running backs, Jamal Lewis and Priest Holmes, in a conference's top 10 in rushing. ... Travis Taylor is tied for fourth in the AFC with seven catches on third downs. On those receptions, he has 66 yards and two touchdowns. ... The Ravens have outscored their opponents, 54-26, in the second half. ... On a chalkboard in the Browns' locker room yesterday in Cleveland: Remember, Ravens 41, Browns 9. It referred to last season's game in Cleveland, when the Browns suffered one of their worst losses of the season.