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Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Limited play makes Suggs a sad sacker

ESPN

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Terrell Suggs had a great time with Byron Leftwich the night before the NFL draft.

The two discussed their future, talked about who would go where and spoke excitedly about the money that would soon be coming their way.

"After that," Suggs recalled Wednesday, "everyone was too nervous to talk to each other."

Suggs, now a rookie linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens, hopes to hook up with Leftwich again on Sunday -- in the Jacksonville Jaguars' backfield.

Suggs, the 10th overall pick last April, and Leftwich, selected seventh and now the Jaguars' starting quarterback, have enjoyed mixed success during their first NFL season.

Suggs tied a record by getting a sack in each of his first four NFL games. But playing time has been tough to come by for the former Arizona State star, who has come off the bench in all seven games thus far.

"It's not coming as fast as I want it to," Suggs said. "Obviously, they don't think I'm ready. When they think I'm ready, they'll move me up."

Suggs, who has eight tackles and an interception, is being used primarily in passing situations. The learning process has been slow, but the Ravens believe his play has improved each week.

"We keep trying to find situations to put him in; we're very pleased with his growth right now," said Ravens head coach Brian Billick.

Suggs said he is still trying to get used to the speed of the game and the wide array of coverages that Baltimore linebackers are expected to master.

"I've learned this game is 90 percent mental," he said.

At least he's made an impression on the one teammate who matters most: linebacker Ray Lewis.

"It would be hard for me to say how Suggs is playing, because I evaluate the defense as a whole," Lewis said. "I think he's playing great when he comes in, and does everything we ask of him. There's nothing else we can ask than that."