When the Ravens signed Terrell Suggs to a six-year, $63 million contract extension last offseason, they hoped the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker would stay hungry.

But irresistible baked goods and greasy fried chicken from Popeye's weren't what the team had in mind.

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Slowed by excess weight and sidelined for three games with a sprained right knee after a Brady Quinn cheap shot, Suggs finished 2009 with a career-low 4 1/2 sacks. He was one of the Ravens' biggest disappointments as they squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record — and he knew it.

"Rest assured, it will never happen again," Suggs swore in May.

But after attending his first offseason minicamp since 2007, Suggs {photo by The Baltimore Sun} was a no-show at voluntary workouts in Owings Mills. Many of us assumed Suggs, off the Ravens' radar, was doing heavy lifting without a spotter at his favorite fast food chicken chain.

I think we owe Suggs an apology.

(Sorry, T-Sizzle.)

Suggs spent his offseason sweating away in a gym somewhere, living up to his word and, for the moment, proving wrong those who doubted his sincerity and dedication to football. He arrived in Westminster last week weighing around 260 pounds — 20 fewer than this time a year ago — and looking relatively svelte.

"He's excited to be here, he is in very good shape," coach John Harbaugh said. "He should have a good camp."

The media have fawned over Suggs (you can now lump me in), treating him like a lucky new mother who quickly dropped the baby weight.

You look sooo good, Sizzle. Tell us, how did you do it? God, I wish I had your genes.

In a matter of days, the slimmed-down Suggs has gone from a major training camp question mark to a major source of optimism entering the 2010 season.

The Ravens finished 18th in the NFL in sacks a year ago (for that, some of you think Suggs is the one who owes someone an apology). Their lack of a chaos-causing pass rush left their secondary very vulnerable at times.

Now, with All-World free safety Ed Reed rehabbing a hip injury and starting cornerback Domonique Foxworth out for the season with a torn ACL, the pressure is on Suggs and the Ravens' pass rush to rebound in a big way.

Suggs said Tuesday that getting after the quarterback is "more of a point of emphasis" for the defense, though "it's not just one or two men's priority, it's more of a group thing."

Excuse me, Terrell? Sure, no one player can do it alone. Last I checked, though, only one Raven on the roster was getting paid $10 million a season to sack quarterbacks. That man is Suggs, and he must transform back into a monster for the Ravens to make this a Super season.

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So far, Suggs has looked good on the field, the place that matters most. Whether he has been standing up or putting his hand in the dirt, he has been fierce, fast and powerful.

"I feel really good," he said.

Suggs gave props to Ravens team nutritionist Sue James, who helped him cut back on the tasty cookies and Popeye's chicken that were his nemeses in the past.

He's done the hard part. Soon, Suggs must prove on the field that the killer instinct that got him to three Pro Bowls isn't still buried somewhere under a pile of money.

"I just wanted to be the best player for the Baltimore Ravens, and that was kind of the motivation just to get back to what you all are used to seeing me as," he said.

That's the kind of hunger the Ravens had in mind.

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