OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens have suffered a devastating
blow that endangers the AFC North champions’ chances of defending their crown.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon
during a workout Saturday in Arizona, an injury that’s expected to sideline the
NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the entire season.
However, Suggs emphasized in an interview with 24×7 that he
expects to return at some point this season.
Suggs, 29, indicated that one doctor already told him that he at
least partially tore his Achilles with another diagnosing it as fully torn.
He’ll undergo surgery to repair the damage Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. with
noted foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, the Carolina Panthers’
team doctor, performing the procedure.
If it’s completely torn, then Suggs would be out eight months to a
year and would definitely miss the whole season. A partial tear could allow
Suggs to return by the middle of the season at the earliest, but it’s unclear
how long it would take for him to regain his form as one of the most dangerous
pass rushers in the game.
“Absolutely, middle to end of October,” Suggs wrote in a text
message. “Definitely beginning of November. I love how you guys are saying out
for the season, just gonna make my comeback that much bigger.”
Suggs denied reports that he was injured playing basketball,
insisting that he was doing a conditioning workout at his high school in
“We do a conditioning test every year, and I was practicing it,”
Suggs wrote. “And I went to stop and turn and I thought I sprained it. Went to
doc and said it’s a partial tear.”
The Ravens are awaiting definitive word on the severity of the
injury, but it’s already clear that they will need to make contingency plans
based on Suggs’ absence.
Suggs personally informed the Ravens of the injury on Monday, but
they also learned during the NFL draft Saturday that there was a possibility he
had gotten hurt. The Ravens drafted Alabama All-American outside linebacker
Courtney Upshaw in the second round Friday with their first overall selection.
“We are in contact with Terrell,” the Ravens said in a statement.
“He will see a specialist early next week, and we’ll know more at that time.”
Team officials are still holding out some hope that Suggs might
play this season, but are prepared for the worst possible news.
Losing an impact player like Suggs is a major blow to the NFL’s
third-ranked defense from last season.
“It’s a big deal,” said ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, a former
Pittsburgh Steelers running back. “It’s a huge loss. Odds are, he
won’t be the same player coming off this injury. This kind of injury at his age
will keep him out for the year and there’s no guarantee he’ll come back the way
you hope he will with this kind of injury. You need your Achilles to push off
A five-time Pro Bowl selection and a former NFL Defensive Rookie
of the Year, Suggs had three three-sack games last season. He’s the
Ravens’ all-time leader with 82 1/2 sacks and 29 forced fumbles.
“Suggs’ injury is devastating,” former Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles
and Cleveland Browns scout Daniel Jeremiah stated. “Pass rush ability is
obvious, but he’s also the best edge setter in the league.
Suggs’ ability to convert speed to power is the best in the
league. Incredible hand usage as well.”
The Ravens’ top candidates to replace Suggs are Upshaw and outside
linebacker Paul Kruger, who had 5 1/2 sacks as a situational pass rusher last
season. Upshaw and
Kruger were slated to compete for the strongside outside linebacker vacancy
created by Jarret Johnson signing a $19 million contract with the San Diego
Now, Upshaw, a 6-foot-2, 272-pounder who had 9 1/2 sacks last
season for the Crimson Tide, is the frontrunner to take over Suggs’ rush
outside linebacker role.
“I already knew I would be competing for a starting job and
contributing to this defense,” said Upshaw, who was drafted 35th overall by the
Ravens after they traded out of the first round. “I don’t look at it like
there’s more pressure on me. I’m going to play the same way I always have. I’ll
play wherever they want and need me to line up. Nothing changes for me.”
The Ravens will also rely on defensive end Pernell McPhee after he
registered six sacks as a rookie to provide a pass rush as well as Pro Bowl
defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (five sacks). Among the unproven players vying
for a role: former second-round outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and outside
linebacker Michael McAdoo.
“Upshaw and Kruger are going to be relied on to provide the pass
rush,” Jeremiah said. “Emergence of McPhee is a huge help.”
The Ravens aren’t expected to trade for New York Giants defensive
end Osi Umenyiora considering their tight salary cap situation ($1.653 million
under the NFL salary-cap limit). The best available defensive end-outside
linebackers are New England Patriots free agent Andre Carter and Jacksonville
Jaguars free agent Matt Roth.
If the Ravens decided to place Suggs on the non-football injury
list, they wouldn’t be obligated to pay his $4.9 million base salary. However,
the Ravens aren’t expected to take that measure with one of the most
accomplished defensive players in franchise history.
Suggs carries an $11.52 million salary-cap figure. Suggs has
missed just three games in nine seasons for the Ravens since being drafted in
the first round out of Arizona State with the 10th overall pick.
Six of nine seasons, Suggs has started every game. Last season, he
was a major reason why the Ravens reached the AFC championship game for the
second time in four years.
Suggs delivered an upbeat message to his fans via his Twitter
“To all my loyal and true fans, know that everything that can and
needs to be done will be done,” Suggs wrote. “I will be in a Ravens uniform in