Terrell Suggs' vow since tearing his right Achilles in late April was that he would run out of the tunnel and play meaningful football during the 2012 season.
Suggs was always non-committal when that would be and that remained the case Thursday in his first public comments to the Baltimore media since June.
"There is no plan in place so we have to take it day-by-day," said Suggs, disputing an ESPN report that he plans to play Sunday against the Houston Texans and that his family and friends will attend the game to witness his comeback. "We went out there and practiced [Wednesday], see how it felt. I'll practice [Thursday] , see how it feels, and I'll practice [Friday] and see how it feels. Come Sunday, I may or may not be out there so we just have to wait. … I was really going to take [the decision] down to the [final] minute."
Suggs, who remains on the physically unable to perform list, practiced on a limited basis Thursday for the second straight day. The Ravens haven't publicly ruled Suggs out for Sunday's showdown featuring the only two teams in the AFC with winning records. However, all indications are that Suggs will remain sidelined, and one league source took it further by saying, "He's not playing."
The Ravens (5-1) have a bye next weekend, which would give Suggs an additional week to practice on his surgically-repaired Achilles and get in playing shape. All along, the belief was that Suggs would probably be out until some time in November, and team officials would be cautious with the 30-year-old who had a career-high 14 sacks last year and is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
"That's always a concern," said Suggs when asked the potential for re-injuring it. "You know how the guys are in this locker room. We all want to be out there if we can so that's always going to be there. That's why I have the people around me that I trust. With my position coach, Ted Monachino, and our head coach, [John] Harbaugh, we are going to make the decision as a group – whether it would be better for me to either sit out or suit up."
For the second straight day, Suggs came out of a different entrance for practice to avoid the photographers. He then jogged down the sideline and caught a pass from center Matt Birk. If nothing else, Suggs' return to the practice field has raised the morale of a struggling defense.
"It's an emotional boost for me watching him jog out there yesterday to practice," said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees. "He's been in our room and been in the meetings and everything. He hasn't missed anything since he's been off. He's been incredible. He's been in the room kind of absorbing it, but not being the Suggs that we've always known as [far as] interacting in the room. Now he's interacting, which is a great thing. It's a boost all the way across for us."
Long considered one of the NFL's most feared defenses, the current group ranks 22nd in the NFL against the pass and 26th against the run. They've allowed back-to-back 200-yard rushing games for the first time in franchise history and they've sacked the quarterback just 10 times in six games.
Now, they're forced to head into Houston a week after season-ending injuries to their top tackler and emotional leader Ray Lewis and their best cornerback, Lardarius Webb. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) and safety Ed Reed (labrum) are also banged up.
"You want to be out there with your brothers, especially when you lose your big brother," said Suggs, talking about Lewis' season-ending triceps injury. "It's always going to be there, but at the end of the day, we have to do what's best not only for myself, but for the team.
"It's been miserable. It's like being the kid that can't go out and play. You get to see all your friends out, and you're stuck in the house. It really wasn't a good feeling, but it was a good feeling to see them win. I'm glad that after six games, my team is 5-1, so there really isn't any pressure to hurry up and get back."
Reed, who has dealt with his share of injuries, has cautioned Suggs about rushing back.
"Of course we need him, we want him out there on the field, but we don't want him to get hurt again trying to rush to be back on the field," Reed said. "It takes time. Like I told him, 'Your confidence and just getting back into football shape and running around and getting acclimated to the speed takes time.'"
Suggs said that he has felt "all right" at practice, though he acknowledged the only way to get into football shape is to get on the field. Asked about what kind of shape he's in, he said, "The weight is good, but I'm not in a beauty contest."
By now, Suggs has gotten over the need to disprove the doubters who insisted that he wouldn't play this season. His inspiration to get back on the field is far simpler.
"I had never been rocked like that before, but I've always had odds against me," he said. "So everybody said I couldn't do it, and that's kind of the motto that I live by: if I can't do it, it can't be done. I'm not really into proving people wrong right now. The thing is helping my team win. That's the main objective as of right now."