Terrell Suggs said back in June that he would "shock a lot of people" by returning early this season. He left out the part about how well he would perform in his return. Back in June, a month after he underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon his right leg, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs sounded like a guy who had taken a few too many painkillers. In an interview with my colleague Mike Preston, Suggs vowed to "shock a lot of people" by returning to the football field way ahead of schedule. It sounded like crazy talk -- the ramblings of a highly confident or highly medicated man -- when Suggs said that he would return, at the latest, in late November, which was approximately seven months after he partially tore the tendon while working out in Arizona. That would represent a remarkable comeback from an injury that takes mere mortals about one year to overcome. But in a stunning turn of events, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year returned to practice this week, was activated to the 53-man roster Saturday and started in Sunday's 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans. His return came about five and a half months after he underwent surgery. And despite Suggs, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and some of his teammates cautioning us to not expect too much too soon from the star pass rusher and edge setter, Suggs was the team's best player Sunday, making a major impact even though he was on the field for only about half of the Texans' many offensive snaps. The Texans ran right at him on their first two plays of the game. He appeared to trip up Texans running back Arian Foster on the first one and held the edge firmly on the second, too. Later in the first quarter, Suggs didn't bite on a play-action fake and barreled into Texans quarterback Matt Schaub for a sack (he is now tied for fourth on the team in that category). By the time the game was mercifully over for the Ravens, Suggs had recorded four tackles and that sack, hit Schaub twice and knocked down a pass that he could have snatched for an interception. His sparkling return doesn't come close to putting a shine on yet another ugly performance by the reeling Ravens defense, but it was the silver lining nonetheless. I love it when athletes say they are going to shock the world -- and I'm not saying that Suggs ever said that publicly -- as if a young woman in Rwanda or some middle-aged ice fisherman in Northern Siberia is frantically checking their mobile phones to see if the wild prediction came true. But consider the football world -- and maybe the medical community -- sufficiently shocked by what Suggs was able to do. It wasn't just that he played so soon; it was that he played so well. It seemed like the best-case scenario for the Ravens would be that Suggs would be a shadow of himself by the time the playoffs rolled around. But based on how Suggs played against a good Texans offensive line, and on how hard the 30-year-old linebacker is now willing to work to become a truly great player, the NFL better make sure his name is printed on the Pro Bowl ballots. That may sound like crazy talk, too, but Suggs, barring a setback, will get nine more games to build his resume.
Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron
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