OWINGS MILLS – In the middle of a resurgent season and named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month on Wednesday, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had a humorous answer for why he’s improved this season.
"I quit doing cocaine," said Suggs, causing reporters crowded around his locker to break into laughter.
Of course, Suggs was just kidding.
"I’m just playing, I’m just playing," Suggs said. "I’ve never taken cocaine. My mom’s going to kill me. I’m just playing, I’m just joking."
Suggs went on to say that he’s having fun on the field this year.
Suggs leads the Ravens with 7 1/2 sacks after recording a career-low 3 1/2 sacks last season.
"I just felt the love for the game," Suggs said. "I started having fun again. I think we threw an interception last week and I just smiled the whole series. I’m having a great time out here.
"I was just having fun. It’s just the love for the game. I just needed to get away and I think I was able to do that this past offseason and get back to being Sizzle."
Suggs recorded four sacks in November, notching 14 tackles.
"He’s been rushing the passer really well all the way through," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes, you come up with some sacks. We didn’t get the sacks in the last game and yet we got a lot of pressure, and he was a big part of that as far as getting Josh Freeman off the spot and making him move around and throw the ball.
"So, I’m hoping more of those come. Sometimes, it’s just being in the right place at the right time."
Suggs has developed into a strong all-around defensive player, emerging as more than just a pass rusher.
"When I first got here that’s all I wanted was sacks," Suggs said. "And then a certain defensive coordinator and a couple of guys were like, ‘No, you don’t want to just be labeled as a pass rusher. You want to do everything.
"You want to stop the run. You want to drop. You want to have all that on your résumé.’ So, I guess that’s a fair assessment that I can do all things. I guess I sound like a Bible verse."
As for the jokes, Suggs couldn’t resist taking a shot at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Suggs thinks that Brady is pampered by the league.
When asked about the fight between Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan, Suggs said: "Maybe I throw some punches at a quarterback with a bad hairdo, I’d get thrown out of the league."
HANDSHAKE-GATE?: Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward accused Harbaugh of not liking him, saying that he felt snubbed by him prior to the Ravens’ win at Heinz Field earlier this season.
"I don’t think their head coach likes me," Ward told Pittsburgh reporters. "I tried to shake his hand before we played them the last time. He gave me a fake handshake. He didn’t even look at me. That’s fine. Whatever."
Harbaugh seemed surprised to hear about Ward’s sentiments.
"That I don’t like him? I wouldn’t look at him when I shook his hand? I gave him a fake handshake, really?" Harbaugh said with a smile. "I didn’t know there was a barometer for the pregame handshake. That’s good to know. There’s a meter, a scale. I need some work on that. That will be good.
"I’ll just take it as constructive criticism. It’s an opportunity to improve my pregame decorum and courteousness. I’ve got a lot of respect for Hines Ward obviously. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him before the game then. I’ll try to be better, Hines."
Harbaugh was complimentary of Ward’s game.
And he acknowledged that it is somewhat awkward to shake hands with opponents given how intense games are.
"It probably is a little bit," he said. "I don’t get involved with that too much. I’m on the sidelines watching it. He’s a physical player. It’s an intense game. After the game, guys are pretty good about shaking hands. Before the game, obviously we don’t do as good a job."
INJURY UPDATES: Strong safety Dawan Landry was limited after suffering a mild concussion Sunday.
Offensive guard Chris Chester returned to practice after missing the past two games with a lower leg infection, participating fully.
Tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) also participated fully after being sidelined against Tampa Bay.
"I’m feeling better, I’m feeling a lot better from where I was last week to now," Dickson said. "It’s Steelers week. You’ve got to wrap it up and be ready to go. If I have to hobble out there and make the big block, I’m gonna go out there.
"I’m day to day. With those kind of muscle injuries, you can always mess them up worse. So, you’ve got to basically do the necessary treatment and get back as soon as you can."
Free safety Tom Zbikowski (bruised heel) missed the past five games, but is expected to play against Pittsburgh.
"We’re confident Zibby can go," Harbaugh said. "He was out there last week and did a good job. Didn’t feel like he was quite ready, but we’re expecting him to go.
Zbikowski is no longer on the injury report.
"It felt good last week at practice, I just didn’t think I was ready to play yet," Zbikowski said. "I’m definitely more comfortable now. I’m ready to go."
For the Steelers, safety Troy Polamalu (ankle) didn’t practice as well as defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps).
The following players were limited: offensive tackle Flozell Adams (back), defensive end Nick Eason (knee), cornerback Bryant McFadden (hamstring) and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (foot).
PLAYOFF TICKETS GOING ON SALE: The NFL requested that the Ravens begin the process of selling playoff tickets for potential home playoff games.
The Ravens alerted season ticket holders through e-mails about chances to purchase tickets for two games and PSL holders will be sent a notice through the mail.
There will also be a lottery for available seats for PSL holders to buy additional tickets. Then, sales will go toward the general public if tickets remain available.
Wild-card game prices will be $54 to $165 with $64 to $180 for divisional round games and $109 to $230 for the AFC championship game.
QUICK HITS: After cutting safety Ken Hamlin on Tuesday, the Ravens don’t expect him to be out of a job for long. "My guess is he will be picked up right away," Harbaugh said. "He’s a really good player. The numbers have just gotten us. We just haven’t been able to hold on to some guys in some situations. I was disappointed to lose him." … The Ravens’ fire alarm went off when a sprinkler was hit in the team’s indoor practice facility. The Ravens ran their special-teams practice outside before going back inside once the fire alarm was cut off. … Suggs was sympathetic toward oft-fined Steelers linebacker James Harrison. During a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters, Suggs said that Harrison is under scrutiny from officials. "The referees are kind of looking for him," Suggs said. "Even if he breathes on a quarterback wrong, he might get a flag. I think they are looking at him more closely than they are everybody else in the league. In the referee world, they kind of red-flagged him." Suggs added that he thinks the NFL gives certain quarterbacks preferential treatment like Brady and Peyton Manning. "The league has their favorites," Suggs said. "One being in Indy and one being with that other team up north. Besides those two, everybody is fair game. Some quarterbacks are getting the calls right away. Some quarterbacks they don’t care. Like I always said, Carson Palmer got hit in his knee in 2005, but there was no rule made. Then, Tom Brady got hit in his knee and all of a sudden there is a rule and possible suspensions, excessive fines. It’s just getting ridiculous." … The Ravens are 6-1 in Baltimore against the Steelers since 2003.