Terrell Suggs approached the 2017 season like none of his previous 14. Knowing it was a critical year for him and the only franchise he’s ever played for, Suggs stayed in Baltimore and spent the offseason immersed in the team’s workout program. It’s the first time in his career he’s participated.
Through 14 games, Suggs has 11 sacks and four forced fumbles, and his coach, John Harbaugh, along with some outside observers, believe the outside linebacker is playing some of the best football of his career.
Suggs’ strong season, along with the play of the unit he leads, was recognized Tuesday when the Ravens landed three defensive players on the AFC Pro Bowl team. Suggs, middle linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Eric Weddle were selected to take part in the game, which will be held Jan. 28 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., a week before Super Bowl LI. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was chosen as a first alternate, beaten out by Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell.
Mosley and Weddle were named starters, while Suggs is a reserve.
Suggs said in a statement released by the team that he was “speechless.”
“Every time you make it, it’s like making it for the first time all over again. It’s a really great feeling.”
It is Suggs’ seventh Pro Bowl selection but his first since 2013. Mosley garnered Pro Bowl recognition for the second straight season and the third time in four NFL seasons. Tuesday’s selection makes Weddle a five-time Pro Bowl honoree, and he’s made it in each of his two seasons with the Ravens.
Suggs, 35, and Weddle, 32, embraced in the locker room after they received the news, and joked about their selections being a win for the “old dogs.”
“I have never worked harder in my life this past year to try and improve my game and get better, and still try to lead this team and show what I’m capable of doing,” Weddle said Tuesday. “It’s amazing to be there with my teammates, with C.J. and ‘Sizz,’ The offseason work that ‘Sizz’ put in to get healthy and to get back to the explosive talent that he is — because we needed it — it’s just amazing for him. And obviously C.J. is one of the best in the league — such a young, bright star that’s only getting better. It’s a joy to go to work with him every day.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh congratulated the three, along with Tucker, after the team’s walk-through practice Tuesday. The Ravens have had at least three players invited to the Pro Bowl for the 12th consecutive year. None of the team’s selections were particularly surprising, though a few other Ravens, including Tucker and punter Sam Koch, certainly have had Pro Bowl-worthy seasons.
Suggs is tied for sixth in the NFL and third in the AFC with his 11 sacks. He also ranks second in the AFC with the four forced fumbles. The outside linebacker has looked renewed this year after enjoying a healthy offseason for the first time in several years.
“You can attribute that to me being healthy for the majority of the year and the team is playing well,” said Suggs, who acknowledged that getting to the Pro Bowl is of great significance to him.
The last time Suggs garnered a Pro Bowl invitation was four seasons ago, and since he missed nearly the entire 2015 season with a torn left Achilles tendon — he tore his right Achilles tendon in 2012 — and he played through a torn biceps injury last year.
“He’s amazing. You expect something different every time you turn on the film, years go by, and nothing changes,” Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of Suggs in a conference call with Baltimore-area reporters Tuesday ahead of his team’s game against the Ravens on Saturday. Pagano spent four seasons on Harbaugh’s staff.
“He’s a rare talent — first-ballot Hall of Famer. … Now we’re on the opposite sideline, but he’s a great player. He’s a great teammate. It will be good to see all those guys, but we have to figure out a way where we don’t allow him to wreck the game, because when you look up ‘game wrecker’ in the dictionary, they have a picture of ‘T-Sizz’ in there.”
Mosley, a first-round pick 2014, continues to play a high level. He leads the Ravens and ranks sixth in the NFL with 121 tackles. He also has eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, including one he returned for a 63-yard touchdown, one sack, three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
“This is a great honor,” Mosley said. “It’s always great to represent your teammates and the organization. All the blood, sweat and tears you go through during the season … it’s all worth it to make the all-star game.”
Weddle leads the Ravens and is tied for second in the league with six interceptions. He’s also fourth on the team with 50 tackles to go along with eight passes defended, one sack and two forced fumbles.
“You never know. I’ve thought I could make it in other years and I didn’t or I was an alternate. I think I’ve had a good year. Early on, I missed some tackles in the run game, but it still was on par with everything else. I’ve shored that up, and the last month or two, I’ve been playing at a real high level. This is just a testament to sticking with it and working on your game. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. But I look at it as just all the hard work, I’ve done so much in the past year to try and keep playing at a high level. To get back to the Pro Bowl and have a great year, it’s pretty rewarding.”
The Steelers led all teams with eight Pro Bowl selections, including injured linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Two former Ravens, Oakland Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele and San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, were selected.
PRO BOWL SELECTIONS
QUARTERBACKS (3) — Tom Brady, New England; Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh; Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
WIDE RECEIVERS (4) — Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh; A.J. Green, Cincinnati; DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
RUNNING BACKS (3) — Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh; Kareem Hunt, Kansas City; LeSean McCoy, Buffalo
FULLBACK (1) — James Develin, New England
TIGHT ENDS (2) — Rob Gronkowski, New England; Travis Kelce, Kansas City
TACKLES (3) — Taylor Lewan, Tennessee; Donald Penn, Oakland; Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh
GUARDS (3) — David DeCastro, Pittsburgh; Richie Incognito, Buffalo; Kelechi Osemele, Oakland
CENTERS (2) — Rodney Hudson, Oakland; Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
DEFENSIVE ENDS (3) — Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers; Calais Campbell, Jacksonville; Khalil Mack, Oakland
INTERIOR LINEMEN (3) — Geno Atkins, Cincinnati; Jurrell Casey, Tennessee; Malik Jackson, Jacksonville
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (3) — Jadeveon Clowney, Houston; Von Miller, Denver; Terrell Suggs, Baltimore
INSIDE/MIDDLE LINEBACKERS (2) — C.J. Mosley, Baltimore; Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh
CORNERBACKS (4) — A.J. Bouye, Jacksonville; Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers; Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville; Aqib Talib, Denver
FREE SAFETY (1) — Eric Weddle, Baltimore
STRONG SAFETIES (2) — Micah Hyde, Buffalo; Reshad Jones, Miami
PUNTER (1) — Brett Kern, Tennessee
PLACEKICKER (1) — Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh
RETURN SPECIALIST (1) — Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
SPECIAL TEAMER (1) — Matthew Slater, New England
QUARTERBACKS (3) — Drew Brees, New Orleans; Carson Wentz, Philadelphia; Russell Wilson, Seattle
WIDE RECEIVERS (4) — Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona; Julio Jones, Atlanta; Adam Thielen, Minnesota; Michael Thomas, New Orleans
RUNNING BACKS (3) — Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams; Mark Ingram, New Orleans; Alvin Kamara, New Orleans
FULLBACK (1) — Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco
TIGHT ENDS (2) — Zach Ertz, Philadelphia; Jimmy Graham, Seattle
TACKLES (3) — Lane Johnson, Philadelphia; Tyron Smith, Dallas; Trent Williams, Washington
GUARDS (3) — Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia; Zack Martin, Dallas; Brandon Scherff, Washington
CENTERS (2) — Travis Frederick, Dallas; Alex Mack, Atlanta
DEFENSIVE ENDS (3) — Everson Griffen, Minnesota; Cameron Jordan, New Orleans; Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas
INTERIOR LINEMEN (3) — Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia; Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (3) — Anthony Barr, Minnesota; Chandler Jones, Arizona; Ryan Kerrigan, Washington
INSIDE/MIDDLE LINEBACKERS (2) — Luke Kuechly, Carolina; Bobby Wagner, Seattle
CORNERBACKS (4) — Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans; Patrick Peterson, Arizona; Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota; Darius Slay, Detroit
FREE SAFETY (1) — Earl Thomas, Seattle
STRONG SAFETIES (2) — Landon Collins, New York Giants; Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia
PUNTER (1) — Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams
PLACEKICKER (1) — Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams
RETURN SPECIALIST (1) — Pharoh Cooper, Los Angeles Rams