At yesterday's first day of mandatory minicamp, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs felt as if he were back at home, running with the NFL's top-ranked defense on the field and joking with his teammates off it.
It was the type of day that makes Suggs excited about this season with the Ravens and beyond.
The two-time Pro Bowl linebacker said yesterday that he is interested in signing an extension with the Ravens before he becomes one of the most sought-after free agents at the end of the season.
"I'm a Baltimore guy," Suggs said after his first practice with the Ravens this offseason. "I love playing in this city and for this organization. I really don't think about free agency. When [the extension] gets done, it gets done."
Last year's explosion of salaries in free agency could be a tempting proposition for Suggs, who is scheduled to make $5 million in the final year of his contract.
As one of the league's top pass rushers, Suggs likely will receive $20 million in guaranteed money in his next contract based on the current market.
Outside linebacker and former teammate Adalius Thomas signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the New England Patriots that included $20 million in guarantees. Another pass rusher, defensive end Patrick Kerney, went to the Seattle Seahawks for a six-year, $39.5 million deal that includes $19.5 million in guarantees.
One of the factors in the Ravens letting Thomas leave in free agency was so they could pursue a new contract with Suggs.
Neither the Ravens nor Suggs would say whether the sides are close to an extension.
"We're still negotiating," general manager Ozzie Newsome said.
This is the month when the Ravens have previously reached extensions with their top players.
In June 2005, the Ravens made Todd Heap the highest-paid tight end at that time. In June 2006, the Ravens made Ed Reed the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
But Suggs tries not to think when it could happen and prefers to distance himself from negotiations.
"I'm a football player and I don't worry about the business side of it," he said. "When it happens, it happens. I don't start my day worrying about my contract. A lot of people would love to be in the NFL. I'm just one of the fortunate ones. Whenever they decide to get it done, they'll get it done. Ozzie Newsome is very good at that. So, I don't worry about that."
Suggs, who turns 25 in October, has already established himself as a top-notch pass rusher with 40 sacks in 64 career games.
But he takes more pride in how he has developed against the run. Increasing his strength each season, he was a big factor in the Ravens finishing second in run defense last season.
"I want to be an all-around defensive player," Suggs said. "When I train the way I do, I love being able to kick [butt] against the run."
The only part of football that Suggs loves more than hitting quarterbacks and running backs is winning. Having won 13 games with the Ravens last season, Suggs said he is more focused on piling up victories this season than his contract situation.
"We just had a blast last year," Suggs said. "I think last year was [like] the first time I was in the NFL, maybe because we were winning so much. Last year was the most fun I've ever had on any football team."
Notes -- The offensive line's new look featured Chris Chester working with the first team at right guard, which meant incumbent starter Keydrick Vincent moving to left guard on the second team. First-round pick Ben Grubbs was with the second team at right guard. "I just come in and do my job," said Vincent, a two-year starter for the Ravens. "Wherever they tell me to go, I go." ... The only player absent was receiver Mark Clayton, who called the team to say he wasn't going to be there. "He had something going on today," coach Brian Billick said. "I'm not quite sure what that was." ... Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe), linebackers Dan Cody (knee), Dennis Haley (unspecified) and Mike Smith (shoulder) and cornerback David Pittman (hamstring) did not practice. Pittman, a third-round pick last season, is not expected to participate in the last two weeks of minicamp, Billick said. ... Linebacker Ray Lewis, who turned 32 last month, said he isn't about to slow down. "Where I am right now, it's scary. I will say that because now I can see that my best football is definitely ahead of me," Lewis said. "That's what's more exciting, for me, than anything."
Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.