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Siragusa's neck sprain leaves status uncertain


Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa missed his second practice of the week with a sprained neck yesterday and said his status for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns would be "a game-day decision."

"We've got to see how it is," said Siragusa, whose neck was injured Sunday when Cincinnati Bengals guard Matt O'Dwyer yanked his face mask.

Team trainer Bill Tessendorf said Siragusa was suffering from spasms as a result of the neck trauma but had no structural damage. Siragusa is listed as questionable on the team's injury report.

"It's more muscle than anything else," Tessendorf said. "He could play if it settles down. It's getting better slowly."

If Siragusa can't play in Cleveland, Lional Dalton would start at right tackle. Dalton, however, expects Siragusa to recover in time.

"This happened last year," Dalton said. "Goose was hurting, and he made a miraculous comeback. He's not the type who'll sit out."

Burnett player of month

Defensive end Rob Burnett was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month yesterday, becoming the first Raven to win the monthly award for defense. Jermaine Lewis (September 1998) and Matt Stover (September 1997) have been selected AFC Special Teams Player of the Month.

Burnett has had a dominating start to the 2000 season, collecting 4 1/2 sacks, 25 tackles, an interception, three forced fumbles and two passes broken up.

He had 2 1/2 sacks in a 37-0 win over Cincinnati last week, giving him 61 sacks in his 11-year career.

Peeking ahead

With a Week 6 date in Jacksonville looming after Sunday's trip to Cleveland, coach Brian Billick insisted the Ravens were not overlooking the Browns.

"Everybody's always going to look ahead a little bit, because it's Jacksonville, [or] because somebody has a proclivity toward a team," Billick said. "There are any number of reasons they do it. You try to continue to bring that focus back to the task at hand.

"I don't believe in any way, shape or form anybody on this team is overlooking Cleveland, particularly because it's on the road. If there's a personal perspective that's got them looking forward to something else, that's going to be human nature. It won't be because they're overlooking and underestimating what Cleveland is capable of doing."

Johnson adjusting

Moved from flanker to split end when he was activated in Week 3, Patrick Johnson is still adjusting to the difference in positions. He has just two catches in two games since returning from a broken collarbone.

"I'm getting used to playing more tight at X [split end]," he said. "When you play the Z-side [flanker], you've got a yard distance between you and the defender.

"I have to get better at playing that position, I'll say that. But I don't have a problem getting jammed up."

Johnson, who went to training camp as a starter before he got hurt, is Qadry Ismail's backup now.

"The team has to move on after an injury," he said. "And I have to find my way back into the mix of things."

Priest's preparation

Priest Holmes may have a reduced role as third-down back for the Ravens, but it hasn't reduced his preparation. He still prepares as if he's a starter.

"It puts me more in tune with what I have to do, knowing I'll have more responsibility in three-wides rather than regular," Holmes said. "So my attention to detail has to be just as high in every aspect of the game."

End zone

Other than Siragusa, the Ravens had good news on the injury front. Right tackle Harry Swayne (ankle) said he expects to play Sunday, backup quarterback Trent Dilfer (knee) believes he'll be able to fulfill his role, and long snapper Frank Wainright (degenerative disc) expects to snap. Wainright had an MRI on Wednesday that showed "normal wear and tear," he said. "I'm going to be there." ... Jamal Lewis' fumble after a 19-yard reception on Sunday was the first fumble lost by a Ravens running back in 19 games and 631 touches (rushing and receiving). The last back to lose a fumble was Roosevelt Potts on Dec. 27, 1998, against Detroit. ... The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to have gained more than twice as many yards per rush (4.8) than they've allowed (2.1).

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