Carroll County Times

Injured Suggs still an asset for Ravens defense

OWINGS MILLS - Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno ripped free from the grasp of Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Suggs unable to pull Moreno to the ground after wrapping him up shortly beyond the line of scrimmage.

Suggs fell to the ground and turned over in obvious discomfort before jogging off the field with his injured right arm hanging gingerly by his side.

Suggs was playing just two weeks after suffering a torn right biceps during the Ravens' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13.

He was on the field for 42 of Baltimore's 77 defensive snaps but finished with just one tackle, clearly limited by his injured right arm and as he continues to work back from the Achilles tendon surgery in early May that sidelined him for the first six games of the season.

"I thought he played well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought he fought and battled out there. He has a lot of courage. He is a fighter ... a warrior."

And despite just the one tackle, Suggs did generate some pressure as a pass rusher and held up well for the most part against the run.

"I think he still provides everything that he does at 100 percent. I mean, not as top notch as he would if he was healthy, but he still brings an amazing game to the table," Baltimore outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. "He's got, of course, his pass rush ability and then he just knows the defense well and brings leadership and all that kind of stuff."

Defensive lineman Arthur Jones joked that Suggs is "a guy that I think with no arms could still get sacks."

But Jones said that Suggs' value goes even beyond what Suggs offers from a physical standpoint.

"He's a guy that still sees everything," Jones said. "He's a true professional. He's not someone that is just out there using his athleticism. He's a guy that actually studies film and knows plays, and he helps me out a lot lining up on the same side as him. He'll say something like, 'Here we go, Art, the ball's coming' or something like that, give me a hint and it just makes the game and my job so much easier."

Suggs' individual production has been only modest, but he's helped fortify a depleted defense that was ranked 26th out of the NFL's 32 teams prior to his return in Week 7.

The Ravens yielded 43 points in Suggs' first game back, but limited their next five opponents to an average of just 16.2 points per game prior to Suggs being sidelined against the Washington Redskins. They allowed a league-low 14.5 points per game during November. And after tallying just 10 sacks in their first six games, they recorded 17 in the six games that followed Suggs' return to the lineup.

But Suggs has been noticeably hampered by the injuries.

Just a year after recording a career-best 14 sacks en route to being named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Suggs has just 20 tackles and two sacks in seven games this season.

He's still in the process of getting back into optimal playing shape after missing training camp, the preseason and the beginning part of the regular season. He's yet to fully regain his speed and explosiveness from the Achilles tendon injury. And now, he's also dealing with the torn biceps.

"He's coming back. He's not back full, but he's back and he's playing hard," Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "If you ask him, I don't think he'll tell you he's playing at 100 percent ... but he's certainly given us a great effort and given us what we need in there."