OWINGS MILLS – Demonstrative and boisterous by nature, Terrell Suggs has begun dancing again as a way to celebrate his sacks.
Although Suggs won’t win many style points for his moves, he’s always off the scales for enthusiasm with a tendency to punctuate his emotional displays with primal screams and muscle-flexing.
And, lately, the Baltimore Ravens’ three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker has been all smiles and happy feet.
Suggs has been decking quarterbacks to the ground on a regular basis, aggressively charging past offensive tackles and barreling into the backfield. For the first time in three years, Suggs has recorded at least one sack in three consecutive games.
One by one over the last three contests, Suggs has made Chad Henne, Matt Ryan and Brian St. Pierre fall to the ground within his grasp for a total of four sacks.
"I think I’ve been very effective all year," said Suggs, who sacked Ryan twice. "Sacks count, pressures don’t."
Noticeably leaner and more focused one year removed from a career-worst season, Suggs now leads the Ravens with 7½ sacks and is on pace to record 12 sacks this season.
It would be his most sacks since he had a dozen back in 2003 as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
What’s different about Suggs?
Well, he’s back to his old playing weight and physique at 260 pounds after reporting to training camp last season at a sluggish 283 pounds and promptly injuring his heel and slumping to a career-low 3½ sacks.
He’s no longer fresh off signing a six-year, $62.5 million contract that felt like an albatross of pressure on his shoulders a year ago. And unlike last season when he dealt with a messy round of legal drama involving his babies’ mother, Suggs isn’t dealing with any off-field distractions this year.
Suggs declined to elaborate on the changes in him, but they’re obvious to see on and off the field.
"I don’t know, maybe the motivation," Suggs said. "It could be a lot of things, but I’m not sharing that with y’all. Definitely private. I just want to give our team the shot to hold the Lombardi trophy at the end of the year."
During a conversation at his locker Wednesday with a small group of reporters, Suggs kept the focus on the team even while being questioned repeatedly about his individual game. Now that he’s quicker and faster again after losing his burst a year ago upon showing up out of shape, Suggs is a threat to harass the quarterback as a pass rusher.
"I don’t know, I let ya’ll do that," Suggs said when asked to evaluate his improved speed as a pass rusher.
Suggs’ target this week is literally an imposing one: Redwood-sized Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.
The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder is a young standout that has passed for 2,099 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions for a 92.0 quarterback rating.
The 22-year-old former Kansas State star is already drawing comparisons to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"He’s a big guy and they both like to break the pocket to make plays and keep the play going," Suggs said. "So, definitely some similarities. The difference between him and Ben is Ben’s got two rings.
"They’re all hard to bring down. You better bring your lunch pail and come to battle. Yeah, definitely hit the weight room a couple of times."
The Ravens’ all-time leader with 21 forced fumbles, Suggs also ranks second in franchise history with 65 sacks. This season, he ranks seventh on the team with 39 tackles and has forced one fumble.
He has anchored well at the line of scrimmage, setting the edge against the run.
"I think Terrell is playing really well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s a complete football player. There are things he can do better, and I’m on him about those things all the time. And I think he appreciates that because it’s really important to him that he plays well.
"How he plays and how he contributes really matters to him. He wants sacks. He wants tackles for losses. He wants to play technique well against the run. He really is a complete player, and that’s what you really appreciate about him."
In the midst of a resurgent season, Suggs isn’t inclined to rest on his laurels. And he isn’t looking for congratulations or accolades.
Suggs is nastier on the field and intent on trying to make a Super Bowl run. He’s consumed with going to Texas, the site of the Super Bowl, and not settling for another trip to the Pro Bowl.
"The season ain’t over yet," Suggs said. "The thing is to continue to climb and try to have the best season we can as a team. We have our goal as Dallas. Anything short of that is just a failure."