Mike Preston: Defense took its cue from Terrell Suggs, who wasn't ready to play

"When you run the read-option you have to know the rules," said Terrell Suggs on his hit on Sam Bradford. "If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that has had two knee surgeries, that's on you" (Kevin Richardson)

Sometimes, veteran players get bored with training camp. Other players just turn up the intensity when the regular season starts.

And, sometimes, older players just don't have it anymore.


We're waiting to see what is going on with Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. If he is indeed the leader of the Ravens defense, they took the perfect cue from him Saturday night in the the team's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Suggs, a 13-year veteran, wasn't ready to play against the Eagles, and neither were the Ravens. Suggs couldn't get a pass rush. Suggs lacked discipline. The one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year didn't make any big plays, and neither did his teammates.

No one is trying to put all of the Ravens' ineptitude on Suggs because there was so much to spread around, but he bears watching because he has played so long. Plus, he came to the team's minicamp in late June overweight, which is more of a sign of a veteran on decline than trying to sustain high levels of performance.

Suggs did come to training camp lighter and passed the team's conditioning test, which can't be said for his teammate, cornerback Lardarius Webb. Suggs still has explosion off the ball and agility, but hasn't shown he is the player of old or even the Suggs of last season, when he was third on the team with 61 tackles, including 12 sacks.

Time is ticking. The season opener against Denver is just a few weeks away, and we're waiting to see something out of Suggs, a flicker of what used to be. This is not to suggest that he is finished or can't play at a high level, but a lot of eyes are upon him.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has taken it easy on longtime veterans in training camp, but he might be a little tougher this week. During the first week, Suggs spent more time hanging around the water cooler than taking repetitions on the field.

Last week, as the Ravens prepared for the Eagles in Philadelphia, he basically practiced one day. So, it's not like Suggs has been overworked during the past three weeks. And after watching him play Saturday night, there is only one question.

What's up with T-Sizzle?


On Philadelphia's opening 12-play, 84-yard scoring drive, Suggs was penalized three times (the Eagles accepted two). The first one, a roughing-the-passer call, was a cheap shot on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. It wasn't vicious, but unnecessary.

He was called for a clothesline hit on Philadelphia tight end Brent Celek four plays later while Celek was running a pass pattern, and then was offsides on 14-yard touchdown run by Ryan Mathews with 6:19 left in the first period.

Suggs played just five more plays before the Eagles scored again following a Joe Flacco interception, but he spent most of that time arguing with officials. By the time the second quarter started, Suggs was on the sidelines, wearing his baseball hat backward as the night continued to go south for the Ravens.

Harbaugh should have sent him back on the field. He should have made him play longer, because he didn't give the Ravens much Saturday night. Instead of preseason game No. 2, it was just another night off.

Suggs is in the same situation as fellow outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, but Dumervil is more professional. Both are veteran players, but Dumervil came to training camp in good shape. Both are in the twilight of their careers, but few are questioning Dumervil because of the work he put in during the offseason.

With Suggs, there is probably still some pretty good football left. He should be able to play well against the lower-level teams in the NFL, but struggle against the better left tackles, like the Eagles' Jason Peters or San Francisco's Joe Staley.


But at this point in Suggs' career, it's not all about gameday. It's about preparing to maintain a high level of play during the regular season, and it is also about being a leader on the field. It's about showing his teammates that a team needs discipline, regardless if it's the postseason or the preseason.

Maybe Suggs is about to hit that switch and turn it on, but it would be nice to see that next week against the Washington Redskins in preseason game No. 3. That's the real final tune-up before the season begins.

There needs to be some signs of the old Suggs, not the one who doesn't appear ready to play.