When the DJ at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field first queued up "Renegade" by Styx -- the go-to anthem they blare over the sound system whenever the Pittsburgh Steelers need to come up with a game-changing, momentum-swinging play on defense -- Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs ran to the front of the first row of yellow seats at the frenzied stadium and mimicked the conductor of an orchestra. Suggs loves being the center of attention, but after making a splash in his debut four weeks ago against the Houston Texans, he has mostly been caught up in the wash the past three weeks, often swimming and spinning in space, trying to find his way back to the quarterback. The fact that Suggs is on the field right now, less than seven months after partially tearing his right Achilles tendon, still amazes me. But it seems more and more likely that while he is still an All-Pro entertainer on and off the field, this season we probably aren't going to see the Terrell Suggs that terrorized quarterbacks in his previous two Pro Bowl seasons. In Sunday's 13-10 win, Suggs showed a couple of flashes of the player he once was and will likely be once again. He was one of the many Ravens players who got a good shot in on Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich, and on one fourth-quarter play he knifed into the backfield to tackle a running back for a loss. But on most plays, he was stonewalled by the mediocre Steelers offensive line. The Ravens tried to find a mismatch by flopping Suggs and fellow outside linebacker Paul Kruger -- who had another solid game, by the way -- at times, but Suggs didn't have much luck no matter which offensive tackle he was trying to run by. And the fact that he was unable to catch Leftwich, who after the game described himself as the "slowest black quarterback," on a 31-yard touchdown run that took 12 excruciatingly long seconds, says a lot about where Suggs is right now. He never quit on the play, but he simply lacked the explosion to get there. Suggs has been quiet -- by his standards -- off the field, too, since returning. And while he still jokes with his teammates and brings much-needed swagger to the defense, I get the vibe that Suggs has decided to tone down his act when the microphones and video cameras in his face until he starts to feel like himself again out on the football field. That's a bummer, but he is in a tough spot. He watched the proud Ravens defense struggle in his absence and linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb go down with major injuries. It was his plan all along to rush back and play, but there is a lot of pressure of him -- I bet he is putting more it on himself than anyone else -- to perform like the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year before the playoffs. I now will never count this guy out, but I don't know if the Suggs of old will arrive on time.
Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun
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