- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are several similarities between the recent injuries to Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Shawne Merriman and Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs. Now, both are coming off Achilles injuries heading into next season.
Here are some thoughts on the two pass-rushers:
If Merriman's injury is an indication, Suggs should be concerned. Merriman used to be a dominant pass-rusher. But Merriman has clearly lost a step or two after his Achilles troubles, and a quick first step is vital for any pass-rusher. Merriman went from an explosive edge rusher with a burst to just an effort pass-rusher who was much easier to block. Suggs has a great burst with a variety of nimble moves, and he needs to rehab vigorously to maintain it.
Merriman is two years younger than Suggs, which also can be a concern for the Baltimore star. Merriman, 27, has been unable to get back to form despite being in his prime years. Suggs, 29, suffered his Achilles injuries two years older, which is significant in football years. Suggs is a great player in his prime. He's also the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But Suggs will be 30 in October.
One difference that is clear is Suggs will have his surgery right away. Merriman struggled with his Achilles and tried to play through it. The injury put Merriman on injured reserve in back-to-back seasons before he finally decided to have corrective surgery this year. Suggs wisely is getting his surgery immediately and can start a full rehab process. He hopes to return in the second half of the 2012 season at 100 percent.
I covered Suggs for several years in the AFC North, and he is a flat out beast. He was one of the most dominant and all-around stout defensive players I've ever covered. It's hard to imagine a physical freak like Suggs not being a great player when he returns. But this is a worrisome injury for an elite pass-rusher, and one he needs to be careful not to rush.