As the Ravens wrapped up their final day of mini-camp the focus quickly shifted to Terrell Suggs as he took to the podium to address the media for the first time publicly since his Achilles injury.
Earlier this week Suggs was given the green light to lose the crutches and replace them with a black walking boot on his right leg. The reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Year put the boot through the paces, hobbling through the Under Armour Training Center between team meets and rehab with Ravens trainer Mark Smith.
When asked if it was frustrating to see his teammates at work on the practice field Suggs said, “Tons! Tons! You know, this is a very unfamiliar feeling for me. I’ve never had to sit and watch my brothers go to battle without me. So, it’s definitely frustrating, but it’s going to be a learning experience for me.”
Suggs recovery has been kept under wraps, although he has been floating the idea of a possible November return. Suggs’ optimism is fueled in part by doctors who classified the outcome of the surgical procedure as a best-case scenario. Apparently it was less invasive than most Achilles surgeries.
Sitting out with a major injury is unchartered waters for Suggs. During a time when he should be preparing to defend his DPOY crown, the versatile DE/LB has had to shift his focus.
“Right now, rehab is my football field. And until I master it, I won’t be out there. So I’m definitely trying to become All-Pro at that, ASAP.”
Luckily for the Ravens, Eric DeCosta said approaching the draft that their theme this year was depth and that was what they got when they selected Courtney Upshaw with the 35th pick.
Suggs has been impressed with what he has seen from Upshaw so far.
“From what I’ve seen on the film, he’s been playing pretty good. He’s ahead of where I was when I came in my rookie year.”
The Ravens and their fans can only hope that Suggs is a great evaluator of talent, particularly when comparing first year production. During his rookie year in 2003, Suggs had 12.0 sacks.
“I have 100% confidence in the kid,” Suggs added.
Playing opposite Upshaw and the primary candidate to replace Suggs is Paul Kruger. When asked about his confidence in Kruger Suggs said, “Paul Kruger looks as ready as anybody.”
So far in practice, the defense looks sharp and has been performing well. In order for the Ravens to make sure Suggs sees the field this season they need to stay competitive in his absence.
“This defense can definitely get it done and hold the levies until I get back; just like when we had the deal when we lost our general last year for four games so we got to go get it done.”
Suggs concluded his time at the podium by once again proclaiming that he would be in a Baltimore Ravens uniform in 2012.
With a targeted return in November, the Ravens fan base will closely monitor Rehab So Hard University this football season.