Suggs slings no answers

The Baltimore Sun

There is no doubt that Terrell Suggs is hurting.

But the extent of his shoulder injury remains a mystery.

With his right arm in a sling, the Ravens' linebacker was noncommittal whether he would play in Sunday's AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I really can't honestly answer the question," he said. "It would be really unfair to tell you guys one thing right now and do another on Sunday."

Suggs said his availability would be a game-time decision.

"I have never missed a game here," said Suggs, who has played in 100 straight games (including the postseason), the longest current streak for a Ravens position player. "So, I definitely don't want to start with the AFC championship. Come Sunday, we'll see."

Questions remain about Suggs' injury even after he fielded about a dozen of them from reporters.

He wore a sling in front of the television cameras, but he didn't wear one after coming off the practice field (he didn't participate in workouts for the second straight day). He couldn't give details of the injury or the magnetic resonance imaging.

It's uncertain whether Suggs is in tremendous pain or whether this is a ploy to throw off the Steelers.

While Suggs is unsure whether he'll play, his teammates are not.

"You would have to strap him down for him not to play in this game," Ravens free safety Ed Reed said.

Suggs, who was selected to his third Pro Bowl, led the Ravens with eight sacks and finished third on the team with a career-high 102 tackles.

He injured his shoulder in the first half of Saturday's divisional playoff game while tackling quarterback Kerry Collins. After landing on top of Collins, Suggs immediately grabbed toward his right collarbone.

The injury sidelined him the entire second half.

Suggs said he has been rehabilitating the shoulder four to five times a day and it is feeling better. On Wednesday, he seemed to be in discomfort when taking off his shirt, using only his left arm. His right arm hung to the side.

There is a chance Suggs will not start and will play only in passing situations. Jameel McClain and Edgar Jones could fill in for Suggs as a linebacker in their 3-4 alignment, and Marques Douglas could play defensive end in a 4-3 front.

Suggs will likely wear a harness - as former Ravens pass rusher Peter Boulware did - that would stabilize his shoulder (and help it from slipping out of joint) but also limit his movement.

Suggs seemed skeptical of the harness.

"If they have something that can magically stop me from using my shoulder to tackle somebody ... up until then, I don't know," he said.

Asked to describe the injury, Suggs said he isn't a doctor. "I messed it up," he said. "They have never seen anything like that."

Asked about the results of the MRI, he said: "I can't remember. I was so distraught when they told me. It's not good. It could be major ligament damage. We just have to wait and see."

Suggs said there is a possibility he might need surgery after the season. He also said the injury could worsen if he continues to play.

"It's a big chance that it could get worse, especially in this smash-mouth game," said Suggs, who could be a free agent at the end of the season if he isn't again designated a franchise player by the Ravens. "We're not playing Indy; we're not playing a finesse team. We're playing a team with the exact identity as us."

Suggs, however, seems more concerned about how this injury could affect his team than about the injury itself.

"If I feel like me being out there will hinder us and that we would be playing with 10 [players], the decision is obvious - I can't go," Suggs said.

In his six seasons with the Ravens, Suggs has built a reputation as being one of the more laid-back players on the team.

He will sometimes sneak into the media room to steal pizza. He is always showing movies on a television screen in his locker, giving out popcorn to teammates at times.

But Suggs was visibly distraught when talking about his injury yesterday.

"You see his personality, and maybe you don't think there is a serious side to him," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "On Sundays, he's all business. In the NFL, durability is just as important as athletic ability. He's got both of those traits."

Suggs acknowledged that he would prefer to be talking about cheap shots from Hines Ward and so-called bounties.

"This game is bigger than all of that nonsense," Suggs said. "This game is that important. It's so important that I would actually consider sitting out to win it."

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