Last week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he wouldn’t know what to expect from linebacker Terrell Suggs if he played Sunday against the Houston Texans. Maybe he was being coy at the time, but he admitted on Monday that even he was surprised by how much Suggs played in his return from a torn right Achilles tendon.
The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year played 44 of their defensive snaps -- or 55 percent of those plays.
“I didn’t know he would be able to play that many snaps, in all honestly,” Harbaugh said. “For him to be able to play 44 snaps is really something. I don’t know if that’s ever been accomplished, to come back from an Achilles tear at that stage of offseason this quickly. And to play the way he played, it’s probably unprecedented.”
Suggs dusted off his sack dance in the first quarter after Texans quarterback Matt Schaub tried to fool the Ravens with a play-action fake. He finished the game with four tackles. He pressured Schaub on at least two other pass plays. And Suggs even dropped into coverage on several plays and nearly picked off a pass. He ran stride for stride with Owen Daniels on another play, falling on Daniels as a pass glanced off the Texans tight end’s fingertips.
According to Pro Football Focus, Suggs lined up at six different spots on the field, if you differentiate between the snaps in their usual 3-4 base defense and the handful of snaps when they went with a 4-3 defensive front. He was standing up at his regular outside linebacker spot on the right side of the defense on 25 of the 44 snaps and was the left outside linebacker on 11 snaps. He put his hand on the ground as a down lineman on eight plays.
Now that the NFL has added the official snap counts to the game stats from the 43-13 loss to the Texans, I was also interested to see how the rest of the outside linebacker rotation was affected by the return of Suggs. Second-round draft pick Courtney Upshaw started at strong-side linebacker opposite Suggs, but reserve Paul Kruger actually played more snaps. Kruger played 56 snaps while Upshaw played 36. Former starter Albert McClellan played just 24.
We’ll see how that rotation shakes out going forward, but you have to figure that Suggs will continue to increase his snap count as the season progresses and the strength and flexibility in his right leg improve. I certainly have higher expectations for Suggs after seeing him play so well Sunday, but Harbaugh said his haven’t changed.
“I guess I felt like Terrell Suggs was going to be Terrell Suggs whenever he came back,” he said at Monday's news conference.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun