Thursday, October 18, 2012
No one should be surprised about Suggs
By Jamison Hensley
Terrell Suggs' favorite line since injuring his Achilles tendon in April is that he's going to surprise people when he runs out of that tunnel this year. If he does it Sunday, as ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter is reporting, Suggs will be right -- everyone will be amazed how fast he has recovered.
Some initially thought Suggs would be out for the season. Others then estimated December or mid-November at the earliest. Now, less than six months removed from surgery, Suggs is looking to return for a Week 7 game against the Texans.
But no one should really be surprised if you think about last season. When the Ravens lost linebacker Ray Lewis for four games with a toe injury, Suggs was the one who stepped up as a leader and playmaker. During Lewis' absence, Suggs delivered 17 tackles, seven sacks and four forced fumbles.
With Lewis hurt again this season, it's Suggs to the rescue again, coming back earlier than everyone had expected.
To describe this simply as good news would be an understatement. The Ravens needed Suggs to return in the worst way. Baltimore lost its leader (Ray Lewis) and top cornerback (Lardarius Webb) to injuries Sunday. Haloti Ngata, perhaps the best defensive tackle in football, is not at full strength with a knee sprain. Ed Reed, the future Hall of Fame safety, revealed Wednesday night that he has a torn labrum in his shoulder. I haven't seen so many people get hurt in such a short amount of time since the last time my wife forced me to watch "Grey's Anatomy."
Suggs, who has his own movie production company, couldn't have written a more dramatic script. He is coming back just in time to play in the Ravens' biggest non-division contest of the season. Sunday's game against the Texans (5-1) could have tiebreaker implications down the road for the No. 1 seed or a first-round bye. The Ravens (5-1) obviously now have a better shot at beating Houston and getting after quarterback Matt Schaub.
What Suggs can everyone expect Sunday? Definitely not the same one who was holding the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award a few months ago. Suggs is a power rusher who beats offensive tackles with a burst off the line. Plus, Suggs has packed on some pounds during his time off and doesn't appear to be in football shape. "Some guys will say it takes them a full year to feel like they did pre-injury, especially when it comes to power, speed, explosiveness," ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell said in May.
Unlike Reed, who is looking like someone who is playing hurt, Suggs is a high-energy, high-effort player. He hates to sit out and takes pride in playing in all but three games in his first nine seasons. My advice is don't underestimate Suggs even if he's at 70 percent or 80 percent. Leading up to the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh in the 2008 season, he didn't practice because of a significant shoulder injury. Suggs then sacked Ben Roethlisberger, one of the hardest quarterbacks to bring down, twice.
The Ravens probably will keep Suggs on a limited snap count. My guess is he'll be a pass-rush specialist Sunday and play on obvious passing situations. That would provide a huge boost to the Ravens, who have won without Suggs but have failed to produce a consistent pass rush without him. Baltimore has 10 sacks in six games. Only seven teams have recorded fewer sacks.
The Ravens needed Suggs to come back. And, like most times in his career, Suggs is there once again for Baltimore.