OWINGS MILLS — Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is confident that his sprained right knee isn’t going to end his season, and he’s targeting the Baltimore Ravens’ game next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers for his return.
Injured on an illegal block by Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn during Monday night’s 16-0 win, Suggs has a minor tear of his medial collateral ligament and is forecasted to miss two to three weeks.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that I should be back this year," Suggs said Wednesday in his first comments since suffering the injury. "That’s the plan. That’s where I’m at with it."
Suggs claimed that he hasn’t watched the play where Quinn launched himself at the three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher’s knees. However, he has been informed by several players that it was a cheap shot.
“That’s exactly what it felt like, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t really say one way or another," Suggs said. "I’m more upset that I’m going to miss this game."
Quinn has apologized publicly to Suggs and the Ravens, but Suggs said he hasn’t heard from the Browns’ quarterback.
From Suggs’ standpoint, he wondered why Quinn wasn’t fined more than $10,000 by the league office.
“If I wouldn’t have gotten the same fine, then it’s definitely not fair,” Suggs said. “But he’s a quarterback and I’m a linebacker. That’s just the world we live in. If they were to say that it was the other way around, then you can say it’s fair.”
The Ravens host the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers next weekend, and Suggs is holding out hope that he’ll play in this game much like he did last year’s AFC title game when he sacked Ben Roethlisberger twice despite a painful shoulder injury.
“I’ve got to get back for that rivalry," Suggs said. "That’s the game you definitely don’t want to miss. Hopefully, I can miraculously heal and try to get back to play. I’m usually a pretty good healer."
Suggs has never missed a game, an impressive 105-game streak of durability that will end Sunday as he’s been ruled out for this game against the Indianapolis Colts.
"I’m really crushed that I’m going to miss my first game," he said. "That sucks. I was trying to beat [Ravens general manager] Ozzie [Newsome, never missed a game]. It really sucks I get to miss this game where we get the opportunity to do something great."
The timing of Suggs’ injury is horrible for the Ravens.
Over the next three weeks, they square off with the undefeated Colts, the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Each team features a dangerous passing game and franchise quarterback.
And the Ravens may have to play those games without Suggs, the second-most prolific pass rusher in franchise history with 56 ½ career sacks.
"This couldn’t come at a worse time," Suggs said. "I’m very disappointed. I got to make sure I’m a professional and do everything in my power to get back so I can help my team go on this run. I want to be a part of this.”
Suggs expressed confidence in his replacement, rookie Paul Kruger, but said he shouldn’t get too comfortable.
"I think he’s going to do great," Suggs said. "Paul has got an amazing opportunity in front of him. I’m looking for great things out of him. He’s a direct reflection of me."
INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap didn’t practice again due to a painful rib injury, and L.J. Smith is preparing to start in his place.
A former starter with the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith hasn’t played much this year and has caught just one pass for 26 yards.
"I’ve got to be prepared for whatever," Smith said. "I’m well-rested, which is good and bad being that game conditioning is a little different tempo and heart rate. I haven’t had that in a while."
When asked if he’s concerned that Heap could be out, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron replied: "That’s not a concern to my knowledge."
Cameron expressed confidence in Smith’s ability despite his lack of playing time.
"His lack of plays at tight end [speaks] to the way other guys have been playing," Cameron said. "So, if Todd is not at full speed or we need to spell him in there a little bit, we have tremendous confidence in him."
Running back Matt Lawrence is on crutches with a knee injury and was ruled out.
Center Matt Birk (neck) was upgraded to full participation in practice after being held out Wednesday.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle) was limited for the second day in a row.
Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee) and linebackers Tavares Gooden (concussion) and Jarret Johnson (left shoulder) participated fully.
Not practicing for the Colts: safety Antoine Bethea (foot), offensive tackle Dan Fedrkeil (concussion), defensive tackle Eric Foster (back), defensive back Aaron Francisco (ankle), defensive end Dwight Freeney (hip), receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee), tight end Gijon Robinson (concussion), quarterback Jim Sorgi (right shoulder) and kicker Adam Vinatieri (right knee).
Returning to full participation in practice: wide receivers Pierre Garcon (ankle) and Hank Baskett (illness) and long snapper Justin Snow (elbow).
FILLING IN: With reserve safety and special-teams standout Haruki Nakamura placed on injured reserve this week with a broken right ankle that required surgery Wednesday to repair the damage, it was another blow for a unit that has already lost Pro Bowl special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo for the season.
On defense and on special teams as a personal protector on the punt team, backup safety Tom Zbikowski’s role is about to expand.
"I’ve been working a lot as a personal protector, there’s a lot of cadence and calls," Zbikowski said. "Luckily, I’ve been working there. Haruki has been helping me out with making calls, filling in for him there and other positions. It’s tough, but you do miss him."
Zbikowski said he’s up to speed at both safety positions, free and strong.
"You’ve got to know them both to understand the defense," he said. "I don’t even know if we have a free or strong safety in his defense. It’s just being a safety, playing down and playing deep."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.