Since the season began, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has kept a relatively low profile as he rehabbed his surgically-repaired right Achilles. He strolled through the locker room on occasion, saying very little and declining to update his status with reporters.
But the biggest sign that Suggs is getting closer to a return came Wednesday when the movie "Goodfellas" blared from his locker. Suggs, a film buff, watches movies as he gets ready for practice.
"You can hear it in the locker room now. There's already a change in the atmosphere with [Suggs] back," Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan said. "He's still himself so we're looking forward to getting our swagger back."
Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year who tore his Achilles in late April during an offseason workout, remains a ways away from returning to game action. However, he took another important step forward Wednesday when he participated in practice for the first time since the injury, albeit on an extremely limited basis. Suggs is expected to speak to reporters Thursday for the first time since June.
"To what extent, to what he is able to do, we should just temper our expectations a little bit," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's coming off a very serious injury, an Achilles tear. We'll just see how he does, but he will start today. This is the first time he is allowed to do it. He's worked really hard. He's done a great job with the rehab. He's followed the protocol. He had no setbacks throughout the course of the whole deal so that's a credit to him and a credit to the doctors and to our trainers."
Suggs, 30, was placed on the physically unable to perform list in late August, a designation that left him unable to play in the Ravens' first six games. Now that he's started practicing, Suggs can remain on the PUP list for another 21 days before the Ravens have to either add him to the active roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve.
That decision will have to be made a couple of days before the Ravens face the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 11. It would be extremely surprising if Suggs, who has vowed all along that he will play this season, returns any sooner than that. Still, Harbaugh called it a "positive thing" that the linebacker was able to begin practicing on the first day he was eligible.
As for Suggs' potential return to game action, Harbaugh said, "I don't have a timetable on that. It's going to really be day-to-day, it really is."
Suggs' return to the practice field came on the same day that the Ravens put their defensive leader Ray Lewis on injured reserve with a torn right triceps and just a day after top cornerback Lardarius Webb was declared out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee.
The Ravens have made clear that they don't expect Suggs to be the savior for their defense, which is ranked 26th overall in the NFL and has allowed 200-plus yards rushing in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. However, there is still a great deal of anticipation for his return.
Nine different camera crews awaited his arrival on the practice field, though Suggs, always the comedian, dodged them by coming out of a different entrance and having safety Ed Reed walk at his side. Reed then playfully taunted the photographers who were looking to get a shot of Suggs heading to the practice field.
Suggs, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who set a career high with 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles last season , jogged from sideline-to-sideline on an adjacent field and also threw the football around with Reed, wide receiver Torrey Smith and fellow linebacker Paul Kruger.
"He's really the biggest key. We need him right now. It's a huge thing to have him back," Kruger said. "He's just the type of player that can really change a game and change a season for you. He's also a leader and someone who can really change the attitude and the atmosphere."
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