Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh says that Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon and will be out for the season. (Baltimore Sun video)
DENVER — The 19-13 season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos left several Ravens frustrated and lamenting several plays that could have changed the end result. The news that starting outside linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his left Achilles and would miss the rest of this season left the Ravens locker room in shock.
"It's a heavy blow," said Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., pausing several times during his response. "It's a tough deal."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced after the game that Suggs had torn his Achilles tendon and would miss the rest of the season. He's expected to have surgery in the days ahead.
Suggs, who tore his right Achilles in the spring of 2012, went down while rushing Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning about midway through the fourth quarter. The linebacker gingerly limped off the field after Demaryius Thomas caught an 11-yard pass from Manning. Suggs was later taken on a cart to the locker room, where the diagnosis was made.
"I'll say this about Terrell Suggs: you try to define why things happen. Here's a tough, tough break for a guy who has done nothing but work above and beyond to a degree – at least as hard as he worked his whole career, but I'd say more – and prepare himself and be the kind of leader that you just admire so much. This guy has been such a leader for us."
The injury is a devastating setback for Suggs, who now has to go through his second rehabilitation process on a torn Achilles in about 40 months. In 2012, he made a quick return, missing just six games during the season.
However, he's now 32 years old and was noncommittal about how much longer he plans to play when asked before the season.
The loss is also a crushing blow to a Ravens defense that depends significantly on its pass rush and is pretty thin at outside linebacker. Suggs was just one of three outside linebackers active for the Broncos game, joining Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw. Rookie fourth-round NFL draft pick Za'Darius Smith was inactive.
"You can never replace Terrell Suggs," Dumervil said. "He's a big emotional leader for our team. It hurts everybody when you hear news like that. We just hope he has a speedy recovery and that he gets through it. I can't imagine how tough that is. "
The Ravens could start Elvis Dumervil at rush linebacker and have Upshaw be an every-down player on the strong side. But they now need Smith to play a big roe. They could also try to add a free-agent pass rusher, though the market isn't exactly overflowing with them.
"That's our leader," Upshaw said. "The motto here is next man up, and you're going to hear everybody saying that, but you never want to lose a guy like him. He's been a cornerstone for this defense for a long time."
Suggs, the longest-tenured Raven, is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and the franchise's all-time leader in sacks (106.5) and forced fumbles (29). He had 12 sacks last season.
He was in the midst of a quiet game – he wasn't credited with a tackle – when he went down with the injury.
"Why does that happen to a guy on a play like that?," Harbaugh asked. "I don't even know what happened out there. All of a sudden, I look back and he was on the ground. But these are the things in life that happen. Adversity is how you respond to it. It's about how you react to it.
"It's about how you come back and play the next game, how our young guys step up and how our older guys wrap their wings around those young guys and they play the way they need to play. That's what a team is all about."