- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2000

OWINGS MILLS, Md. Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa ended his four-week holdout and reported to the team yesterday after agreeing to a two-year contract extension.

Siragusa had been seeking a multi-year deal that would pay him $1.5 million this season and upwards of $2.5 million for future seasons.

Siragusa, 33, was an integral part of a defense that finished second in the NFL last season. He anchored a defensive line that did not permit a 100-yard performance by an opposing rusher all season.

"In my situation, I decided to make a stand and stand up for what I believe," Siragusa said of his prolonged holdout. "I was pretty consistent on what I wanted and where I was willing to go. I'm happy with the terms, and I got what I wanted."

Siragusa joined the team as an unrestricted free agent from the Indianapolis Colts in 1997. Since his arrival, Baltimore's defense has held opponents to 3.6 yards per rush. Last season the Ravens' second-ranked defense allowed just 3.1.

"He's a valued member of what we're doing," coach Brian Billick said. "He's a key element of what we were able to do last year. Having him back in addition to what we've already shown that we've been able to do with the other guys does nothing but make us stronger."

Entering his 11th season, Siragusa brings veteran leadership to the Ravens' young, aggressive defense. He finished sixth on the team with 68 tackles, including 3 and 1/2 sacks, the second most in his career.

"Of course it's good to have 'Goose' back," said Ravens Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary. "He's a veteran, and he's definitely somebody that helps anchor the defensive line. I think [defensive tackle Lional] Dalton has done an outstanding job also. So, I think we're going to have great rotation up there."

To the relief of the coaching staff, a svelte Siragusa showed up at the training facility. There were some concerns about Siragusa's weight ballooning while he missed three weeks of two-a-day practices during his holdout. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 340 pounds, Siragusa appeared much lighter than that.

"He's right at the weight that we wanted him to report," Billick said. "Obviously, he's got an uphill battle in terms of getting in shape in quick order."

Billick said Siragusa would be used in a "limited capacity" for the season opener Sept. 3 at Pittsburgh. Dalton, a third-year pro out of Eastern Michigan, likely will start at right tackle until Siragusa can get into playing shape.

In another key roster move, the Ravens placed special teams standout and fan favorite Bennie Thompson on the reserve-retired list. Thompson, 37, was a two-time Pro Bowl performer. The Ravens offered him a job as an on-field special teams assistant coach, and he is likely to accept.

Notes Pro Bowl outside linebacker Peter Boulware passed a physical yesterday and resumed practicing with the team during the afternoon session. Boulware, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, didn't participate in training camp and worked out individually with trainer Bill Tessendorf. Billick expects Boulware to be ready for the opener… .

Rookie quarterback Dan Robinson was waived and rookie tight end Pedro Edison (knee) placed on injured reserve… . The roster stands at 71 players including three NFL Europe roster exemptions and a special exemption for Siragusa. The Ravens must release two players by the end of the day to get down to the league-mandated 65-man roster.

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