BEREA, Ohio – Romeo Crennel couldn’t be talked into doing an encore. That’s probably a good thing.

One day after belting out a few lines from a song during his pregame speech before the Browns faced the New York Jets, Cleveland’s coach turned down a chance to repeat his performance on a more public stage.

“Oh, no,” Crennel said with a laugh during his news conference. “You’ll want me to sing all the time.”

It’s hard to envision Crennel doing his best Luther Vandross or Tony Bennett impersonation amid a crowded locker room of fired-up NFL players preparing to take the field and smash opponents for 60 minutes.

Crennel’s melodic choice was unknown, but whatever tune he selected, it certainly got the Browns humming.

In its first game with new coordinator Jeff Davidson, Cleveland’s offense moved efficiently, the defense made big plays and forced turnovers, and, for one of the few times since their expansion rebirth, the Browns had a controversial call in the final minute go their way.

Other than some breakdowns on special teams, the Browns (2-5) had their best game of the season.

And, despite injuries to guard Joe Andruzzi (knee), linebacker Willie McGinest (ankle) and defensive tackle Orpheus Roye (hamstring), the Browns came out of the 20-13 victory relatively healthy – and feeling good about the rest of the season.

Andruzzi and McGinest underwent MRIs on Monday.

Redskins

Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss didn’t practice Monday as the Redskins returned from a four-day, bye-week vacation. Of the three, Moss was the least optimistic about playing in Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.

Moss, the team’s only consistent receiver this season, is recovering from a strained left hamstring. He said he was being cautious because of his experience with previous hamstring injuries.

“If you go out and try to be Superman, you can prolong the healing process,” Moss said. “I don’t want to do that. I really don’t want to miss Sunday, but I don’t want to miss any Sunday.”

Top running back Portis has a severe ankle sprain, although he is no longer wearing the protective boot he sported last week. Quarterback Brunell has a pulled muscle in his ribcage.

“I needed another day on the side,” Brunell said. “And I expect Wednesday to be back to normal.”

Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall, who missed the Indianapolis loss before the bye with a severe ankle sprain, was back on the practice field Monday, but was very limited. Receiver Antwaan Randle El also was limited because of a heel injury.

Falcons

Two weeks ago, P.J. Alexander was home in Denver, working out daily on his own, unsure if he’d ever have another chance in the NFL.

The answer came Sunday. Alexander, signed by Atlanta on Oct. 18, made his first NFL start and played every snap at left guard in the Falcons’ 29-27 win over Cincinnati.

“That was the most football I’ve played in a long, long time,” Alexander said Monday, still grinning as he reflected on his whirlwind two weeks.

The Falcons gained 420 yards, an impressive statistic considering the team’s right guard, Tyson Clabo, made his first NFL start the previous week against Pittsburgh. The two newcomers helped provide pass-blocking as Michael Vick threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

Alexander, 27, was not drafted out of Syracuse, but spent the 2002 and 2003 seasons on the New Orleans and Denver practice squads. He appeared in five games for Denver in 2004 before missing the 2005 season with a knee injury.

After being waived by the Broncos on Aug. 29, Alexander kept working out in Denver while hoping for another chance.

“This has been a real rocky road,” Alexander said. “There have been a lot of up and downs but that’s the way this business is. Luckily I was able to come in and get a shot. That’s all you really need in this business, is a chance.”

Jets

The will wait until next week to make a decision on activating running back Curtis Martin for practice or ending his season.

Coach Eric Mangini said he spoke with Martin, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets’ medical staff last week and they chose to hold off on making a decision this week. The NFL’s No. 4 career rusher, sidelined with a right knee injury since the end of last season, was eligible to come off the physically-unable-to-perform list Oct. 16, but the team announced he’d remain on it until after the Jets’ game at Cleveland on Sunday.

“We’re going to go through Monday of next week at least,” Mangini said Monday. “In light of the bye week and talking to Mike and Curtis and the medical staff, that’ll give us the maximum amount of time in the 21-day window and the maximum amount of practice time should he return to practice.”

According to NFL rules, a player on the PUP list can’t be cleared to practice until after Week 6. Then, a team has three weeks to decide whether to allow that player to start practicing. The deadline for the Jets is next Tuesday.

Martin, who has rushed for 14,101 yards, was injured last season in Week 2, but played in 12 games before ending his year. He underwent surgery in December, but was slow to recover. He was placed on the PUP list before training camp so he could continue to rehabilitate the knee, which reportedly has a bone-on-bone condition.

Dolphins

As an early birthday gift to coach Nick Saban, the Dolphins dumped a bucket of ice water on him at the end of practice Monday.

The soaking could serve as a dry run for a sideline celebration Sunday if the Dolphins win at Chicago.

The game matches teams headed in opposite directions, which is why the Bears are two-touchdown favorites. They’re 7-0 and coming off a 41-10 win over San Francisco, while the Dolphins are 1-6 and lost four games in a row before last week’s bye.

“Nobody gives us a chance to win this game,” Saban said. “This is a test. We should look at it as a challenge, and it’s everybody’s choice as to how we respond to that.”

During the bye week, Saban stressed the need for a positive attitude. And despite his team’s disappointing start, the mood remains upbeat, as Monday’s ice-water episode would suggest. Saban turns 55 Tuesday, when his players are off.

AP-ES-10-30-06 1732EST


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