Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles during the offseason in 2012, and returned quickly enough to help the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII. After suffering another torn Achilles last year in Week 1, Suggs, who turns 34 next month, will try to again return strong.
The six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher's career might have an expiration date, but Suggs is confident that time has not yet come.
Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston sat down with Suggs during the final week in August to discuss the upcoming season, Suggs' 14th with the Ravens.
This is your second time through Achilles rehabilitation. How much did the first time through help you this time?
I don't even remember [the first time], to be totally honest with you cause it seems like it was so long ago and we were at a different place, you know coming off the first one. We had just lost an AFC championship, so the desire to get back, it was a sense of urgency where this time they kind of just let me take my time with it.
The first couple of days during your second return, you were quiet. Why, and when did you return to your old self, the old "Sizzle" that likes to talk, yell and have fun during practice?
Oh, I don't know, I just had to get back into the fold. You know, playing football for me is just like riding a bike. You've still got to go through those rough days, you go knock off that rust. Once I felt the rust kind of falling off and I started making a few plays, then I started being my old self again.
Steve Smith has been in this league for a long time and he said there were times during his rehab from the same injury that he asked himself if he really wanted to put himself through this again. Did you have those days?
In the rehab you are always going to have those days but you've got to be committed to your purpose. You have to remember your overall goal, and mine was when I first got hurt. I was like, 'Yo, I have to do it again.' I did it before and I made that commitment to myself and to my team and most importantly I made it to my kids. They want to see daddy play football again so I definitely was working hard, but you are going to have those days. You just have to stack the good ones.
What are you goals for the season?
I'm not going to share with you my little individual ones but as a team I definitely want to win the AFC North and get some home playoff games. I want to start there.
Can you play at the top level again, the Pro Bowl level where you were dominant?
I'm gonna find out.
Are you confident?
What has made you a dominant player? What do you think you have maybe no one else has?
I don't know, but you have to remember who my mentors were. They were 52 [Ray Lewis] and 20 [Ed Reed], and they were students of the game. They got their doctorates in football, if you know what I'm saying, so I kind of got my study habits from them. So, that's pretty much what makes me a dominant player — my willingness to study film. Not only do I have a love for the game, but a desire to learn and know as much as possible.
How do you feel about being the last of that bunch with Ed and Ray?
It's very humbling and flattering to know I'm the last one. You look around and you see all the new faces and sometimes it can get kind of lonely. You still got guys that are a part of the old regime — Joe Flacco, Jimmy Smith, we still got Lardarius Webb, we still got some guys that are still here, but I know what you're talking about. That's why I am so flattered and humbled. I don't know what they saw in me, but like I said, on some days it does get lonely. I do miss my boys.
Who are the toughest offensive tackles you have played against?
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It's hands down Jonathan Ogden. He didn't try to be good. He just lined up and was a great player. Besides him, I played against the greats — Willie Roaf, Walter Jones, you know what I'm saying? I have played against the true giants. Out of the new class, the kid in Dallas, [Tyron Smith], he's really good, the kid in [Houston, Duane Brown], he's come a long way. There's one more, the kid in Washington, [Trent Williams], he's good too, a big guy. But it's hard to make comparisons when you've played against Hall of Famers.
How many more years do you have left?
I don't know; you can't really say. Time is undefeated, but I'm out here practicing. I'm not sore, I still love football. Football is still relatively easy for me. So, I don't know. You know, next year my body may not act the same, you never know. I'm feeling good this year, so let's just see.
You seemed to be enjoying your self in that preseason game [against Lions], like a little kid playing his first game?
Ah man, I got to line up again. I got to play some real-time ball against another team. It felt really good to be out there. We're still all waiting on the big payoff, which is opening day. That's when it actually counts, when the games are on the line.
So coming back did from two major injuries, does that cement your legacy?
I don't think so. I still have a lot of work to do. I'm always up for the next challenge. You just asked me about my goals and stuff, so I'm just interested in more things I can achieve.