CLEVELAND (AP) _ Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Chris Spielman, who underwent neck fusion surgery in 1997, sustained a neck ``stinger'' in the first quarter of Saturday night's exhibition game against the Chicago Bears.

Spielman never returned to the field after absorbing a violent collision with Bears center Casey Wiegmann and was taken to a hospital for an MRI.

``I'm very concerned right now,'' Browns coach Chris Palmer said. ``Very concerned. All I know right now is that he's at the hospital.''

When asked what he might say to Spielman, Palmer said: ``He and I will have a long talk in the morning.''

Spielman was attempting to cut back on a running play when he was blindsided by Wiegmann. The two collided helmet on helmet and Spielman remained face down on the field after the play ended.

Spielman was helped to his feet and walked wobbly to the sideline where he was worked on for several minutes before being escorted to the locker room. The Browns announced he would not return because of a neck stinger, a term used to describe a trauma to the neck.

As he left the field, Spielman tossed his gloves and arm pads into the stands.

In 1997, Spielman missed the final eight games of the season with the Buffalo Bills after a neck injury, which worsened over the course of several seasons, required surgery to fuse two vertebrae.

Spielman sat out all of last season with Buffalo to be with his wife, Stefanie, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 33-year-old linebacker was signed by the Browns in February, and immediately became the expansion team's star player because of his local roots as a high school star at Massillon and an All-America at Ohio State.

Spielman's neck had already undergone a severe test during training camp when he had a violent collision with fullback Tarek Saleh. Spielman awoke the next morning with a stiff neck and went for an MRI which actually indicated his neck had gotten stronger since the surgery.