The bye week did everybody on the Ravens some good.
Baltimore’s star linebacker made a surprise return to the starting lineup Oct. 21 at the Houston Texans, playing more than half of the defense’s snaps less than six months after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
Just being on the field was a big enough deal. But to return and make the kind of impact he did was a bit of a shock. Suggs needed only one week of practice to get up to game speed - to the point where he recorded a sack, four tackles and a tipped pass in less than a full complement of playing time.
Suggs said the timing of the bye was a positive to provide him extra time to recuperate.
“An extra week always helps me to recover. That’s why they put it in there,” he said. “It definitely helped that I didn’t have to play two back-to-back games and we got to see how the tendon feels after you play the game. And it felt pretty good. So we just got to nurse it the whole week.
“I wasn’t unusually sore. Pain is expected, but it wasn’t more than usual.”
Coach John Harbaugh said he expects that workload to increase this Sunday at Cleveland.
“He seems good. We expect him to take on a full share this week, which he pretty much did last week,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll have to see. Obviously, it’s only the second game back, so we’ll just have to see how it goes during the game, during the week.”
Suggs seems ready to play a more complete game after getting on the field for 44 snaps against the Texans.
“I feel like I’m getting better, slowly but surely getting back to my normal self,” Suggs said. “But we’re going to take it week by week.
“If you’ve got to go beyond the call of duty, then so be it by any means necessary.”
Suggs has been one of the more significant stories around the league because of his swift return from his Achilles injury.
Suggs claims he didn’t pay much attention to the chatter, though.
“I was really still kind of bitter that we lost, that I couldn’t come back in a winning effort,” he said. “The thing is we said I was going to come back this year and I came back. You guys shouldn’t have been shocked about it.
“The only disappointing thing is I didn’t come back in a winning effort.”
Quarterback Joe Flacco was explicit in saying teammates believed Suggs when he said he’d be able to return this season, but weren’t so sure about the timeframe the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year had set.
“The fact that he was able to get back out there and play as many snaps and play as well as he did, it was pretty impressive and obviously says a lot about who he is,” Flacco said.
Suggs didn’t surprise himself much, however.
“Everybody pretty much in the building knew that I could do it, I could come back, and it was all just a matter of when,” Suggs said. “I just really wanted to get back.
“We’ve got a lot of unfinished business. We’ve got a lot of work undone and I want to be a part of that, so getting back was the No. 1 priority from the jump.”
That unfinished business? A defense which ranks among the NFL’s worst one game away from the midpoint of the season.
The Ravens rank 28th in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed. Last season, they stood among the NFL’s top five in both categories.
Suggs’ return could provide the unit with a boost, but...
“One man is not going to change that. You know what I mean? It’s definitely a team effort,” he said. “So I think we’ve all got to do things better, just the whole defense. It’s not one man. It’s not the personnel. It’s really just executing and being accountable, being what you’re supposed to be.
“One man, that’s not a stat of one man. It’s a team thing and we all just have to get back to playing a Ravens style of football. But we’re not panicking. We’re not hitting the panic button, but we know definitely we’ve got to address it and it needs to get fixed.”
Suggs expressed that even while he was out, and the same could probably be said with Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb out now, that the Ravens’ defense hasn’t lowered expectations of itself.
“We live by a certain standard around here in this purple. So the expectations never changed,” he said. “So we’re going to go play football and we’ve got to go play winning football and that’s for every man lining up.”
With Lewis out, one might perceive a leadership void in the middle of the Baltimore defense. Suggs said that’s not the case with Lewis still present on the sidelines and sending texts leading up to games.
But on the field, Lewis is absent.
“It’s not going to fall on in particular me, Ed (Reed) or Haloti (Ngata),” Suggs said. “It’s really going to fall on all of us. This whole year has kind of been the next man up type of mentality. We’re going to get it fixed and be ready to go.”
But Harbaugh saw Suggs assume some of that load on the field against Houston.
“Terrell’s been a great leader in his way all through the years, and he’s growing in there all the time,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been a leader for us all year. He hasn’t been able to step up front as much as he’d like to because he wasn’t playing. But he’s been a part of it all year. But now you see that he’s playing, he’s really taken an even bigger role.”