ATLANTA — Terrell Suggs busted into the Atlanta Falcons’ backfield in the first quarter, breaking free from a double-team block to sack Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for a loss of 7 yards.
It was an obvious sign from the Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl outside linebacker Thursday night in a preseason finale at the Georgia Dome.
During his first action of the preseason after straining his heel and Achilles’ tendon on Aug. 2 in Westminster, Suggs displayed no significant rust and emerged unscathed from a health standpoint as he didn’t aggravate the injury. Playing in just two series as the Ravens rested 20 of 22 starters during a 20-3 victory, Suggs registered three tackles, one sack, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
Suggs acknowledged that it was hard to put the injury out of his mind.
“I was thinking about it a little bit, especially because I got hurt on a turf field just like this,” Suggs said at halftime. “I knew it was going to be there in the back of my mind, but once that adrenaline gets going, I’m the same old Terrell. When the Kansas City game gets here, it’ll be out of my mind and I’ll be all right.”
On the first play of the game, Suggs showed his mobility by reversing his charge to peel back and tackle running back Michael Turner after a 9-yard gain.
On the ensuing play after his sack, Suggs decked running back Jason Snelling for another tackle.
Suggs was signed to a six-year, $62.5 million contract this summer. It marks the richest linebacker deal in NFL history.
Now, he’s fulfilling that investment.
“It felt good to finally get out there, but I am still a little rusty,” Suggs said. “We still have 10 days to get ready for Kansas City, but it was good to strap the pads on and get after it again.”
FLACCO AND RYAN: One year ago, the inevitable comparisons between Ryan and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco dominated conversations in league circles. On Thursday, the fact that the two successful young quarterbacks were on the same football field was a total afterthought given the insignificance of the matchup.
Especially since Flacco didn’t even play in the game.
"Oh, I totally forgot about that," Suggs said earlier this week. "It’s a good preseason game, and a little media hype. I totally forgot about that matchup, but it’s going to be a good thing to see."
When asked who he thought would get the best of the matchup, Suggs didn’t hesitate in his reply.
"I’m always going with the purple and black," he said. "I can’t go against us. Yeah, I like my guy."
Last season, Suggs lobbied for backup Troy Smith to get some playing time in a radio interview before later backing off those remarks.
LINEUP CHANGES: The Ravens deactivated 20 of 22 starters, resting the first-string and protecting them from injuries heading into the regular season. The only starters to see action were Suggs and inside linebacker Tavares Gooden.
The Ravens deactivated quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice, fullback Le’Ron McClain, wide receivers Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton (left hamstring) and Kelley Washington, tight ends Todd Heap and L.J. Smith (hamstring pull), offensive tackles Jared Gaither and Michael Oher, center Matt Birk, guards Ben Grubbs and Marshall Yanda, safeties Ed Reed and Dawan Landry, linebackers Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson, defensive linemen Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata and Trevor Pryce an d cornerback Domonique Foxworth and Fabian Washington.
Running back Willis McGahee and offensive tackle Oniel Cousins didn’t see action.
The starting lineup on offense consisted of quarterback John Beck, fullback Jason Cook, running back Jalen Parmele, wide receivers Justin Harper and Demetrius Williams, offensive tackles Joe Reitz and Tre Stallings, guards Bryan Mattison and David Hale, center Robby Felix and tight end Edgar Jones.
Defensively, Baltimore’s nine starters besides Suggs and Gooden were: defensive linemen Justin Bannan, Dwan Edwards and Brandon McKinney, linebackers Jameel McClain and Antwan Barnes, cornerbacks Frank Walker and Chris Carr and safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski.
SO FAR, SO GOOD: At this point, it looks like the Ravens have made a smooth transition to new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. The first-team defense has been dominant, for the most part, throughout the preseason.
Following the departure of popular former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, it looks like the Ravens have taken to Mattison’s approach.
"That’s the beauty of Greg," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Greg has such great relationships with those guys and you can go right down the line, Ed Reed, Trevor Pryce, Ray Lewis, Justin Bannan, Kelly Gregg. Greg seeks their input and they’re not shy about giving their input. They feel a real partnership with all the coaches, especially Greg.
"When we have our meetings, it’s give and take. There’s a lot of communication that’s going on back and forth. There are a lot of really smart football people in that room. Obviously, Greg sets the tone. He’s put the scheme together, but we want involvement from everyone. It’s not a one-man show. That’s what makes a great leader."
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh praised reserve defensive linemen Kelly Talavou and Brandon McKinney. "Those two guys might be considered at the edge of the roster, they’ve played really well," he said. "We think that’s a strength, so we’re happy with how those guys have progressed. They’ll be the first to tell you there’s a lot to learn, and they can learn from the older guys." … Following this preseason game, the Ravens have 10 days until their Sept. 13 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens played three preseason games during a span of 10 days. "Good and bad, you always worry about the fact that they’re not going to play maybe as much," Harbaugh said. "So, it’s kind of equal around the league. You balance it out with the fact that the rest and the recovery part of it is really valuable, too. So, it’s a balancing process." … The Ravens are pleased with the versatility of Pro Bowl special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has also seen action at inside linebacker this preseason. "Brendon is becoming a linebacker," Harbaugh said. "Brendon was probably pigeonholed a little bit, strictly a special teams guy for a lot of his career. He’s worked really hard to become a better linebacker, to the point where he’s competing for the starting dime spot. Vic Fangio has been his biggest advocate."