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Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The last time anyone in the Ravens front office or coaching staff saw outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was shortly after he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener on Sept. 13 against the Broncos in Denver.

Since then, they've received no phone calls and just one text message from the six-time Pro Bowl performer, who has pulled one of the greatest disappearing acts since Harry Houdini. But Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome isn't concerned, and is almost certain Suggs, 33, will return for the 2016 season.

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"The last time I spoke with him was after that game and in the locker room," Newsome said in a recent interview. "I don't know what his future plans are, but I'm sure he will return. He hasn't told me definitely, but knowing him like I do, I would bet he is coming back."

Suggs did not return phone calls or text messages requesting an interview. His disappearance is somewhat disappointing, but not strange for a player of his status. In fact, former Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis wasn't around the team after he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2002, or after he was placed on injured reserve in 2005 after suffering a hamstring injury.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh would prefer Suggs, in his 13th season, be around the team. After all, he is a former first round NFL draft pick and a face of the organization, a possible Hall of Famer.

He also is the unchallenged leader of the defense and could be a coach on the sidelines during game days, when he could work with rookie defensive end Carl Davis on reading certain keys, or help improve rookie outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith's technique on outside pass rushes.

If nothing else, Suggs could deliver the big "boomalacher" speech in overtime, or just wave a white towel in support.

Instead, poof, he has disappeared.

"All of the rah-rah, cheerleading stuff looks good in the movies, but some of the best competitors I've been around don't stay around after suffering season-ending injuries," said Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end who played for the Cleveland Browns from 1978 until 1990. "This is real here, and if they aren't out there bleeding with you, sweating with you and fighting, then it hurts. They are competitors."

"I know what he is going through and you have to be careful with this at this time of his career. I've been through that myself. I can relate to that, I understand. Ray Lewis was like that, and there is a very fine line for a player and us to approach."

Newsome said Suggs would have been at the game against the Arizona Cardinals Monday night — Suggs has a nearby offseason home — except he has visitation rights with his children in Baltimore on certain weekends, and he didn't want to miss any of that time. Suggs' father has also been very sick, according to Newsome.

Suggs signed a four-year contract extension in 2014. He is expected to make $4.5 million next season and $6.5 million in 2017 and 2018. Even if he comes back healthy, it will be interesting to see what the Ravens do with him.

Suggs isn't the same player he was in 2011 when he was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year with 70 tackles, 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles. In 2013 he had 80 tackles with 10 sacks and had 61 tackles with 12 sacks last year.

But most of those sacks in the past two years have come against teams that weren't playoff contenders. Suggs also suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his other leg during the 2012 offseason while playing basketball. A lot of experts predicted he wouldn't play that season, but Suggs made perhaps the quickest return in league history from such a serious injury by playing on Oct. 21 against the Houston Texans.

"Not one, but two tears like that," former Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett said. "That tells me the body is breaking down, the body is brittle."

Former Ravens offensive lineman Wally Williams suffered the same injury while playing in Baltimore from 1996 through 1998.

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"Did I lose a step from the surgery? I didn't know then and I don't know now," Williams said. "But it is going to be hard for a player to rebound psychologically from having a tear on both the right and left. With today's surgeries and medicine, miracles can happen, but I don't know anyone who has had two tears and is playing any professional sport."

Whenever Suggs has had a bad season or suffered an injury, he has always come back with a vengeance. In 2009 after signing a six-year, $62.5 million contract, Suggs had only 4.5 sacks and vowed the next year would not be the same.

He reported to training camp in great shape and finished with 68 tackles, including 11 sacks. The next season was the best of his career.

But he has struggled with playing weight the past two years. He was noticeably bigger during the mandatory minicamp in late June, and was still overweight when training camp started at the end of July. Suggs also never seemed to get over the Ravens trading one of his best friends, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, to the Detroit Lions in March.

But Newsome has a bond and a special affection for Suggs, much like he had with Lewis. He won't say it, but it is Suggs' competitiveness that he believes will force him to return. It's hard to see Suggs leaving the game lying on the field in Denver.

"If I saw Siz, I would tell him to come and see me every once and while so we can talk," Newsome said. "With the surgery, it was going to take to three weeks before they start ramping up the rehab even a little bit.

"If there were any problems with him rehabbing or him not being where he was supposed to be, then I am sure our medical staff would let us know. But Siz has been down this road before, he knows what it takes to come back. I'm sure he'll be ready to go next season."

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