OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Already scheduled to meet with reporters for the first time since early summer, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs instead needed to respond to a media report of him planning to suit up to play against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
After taking part in his first practice since suffering a partially-torn Achilles tendon in late April, Suggs dismissed an ESPN report from Adam Schefter suggesting he was targeting a return to the field in his first week back, but the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year also left the door open for the unlikely possibility of playing this weekend.
“We are feeling it out,” Suggs said. “It’s good to see me back out there [practicing], but we don’t want to jump the gun and rush back, and we don’t want to sit out if I can go.”
Suggs appeared to be practicing on a very limited basis on Wednesday, only doing light jogging and playing catching during the portion of practice open to the media. On Thursday, Suggs did some sprinting in the practice time reporters were allowed to watch.
The 30-year-old admitted he didn’t know how close he was to being in good football shape, citing the need to be on the football field to gauge how well he responds after months of rehabilitation. Suggs will converse with members of the training staff as well as head coach Johon Harbaugh and linebackers coach Ted Monachino in making the decision of when he will ultimately return to game action.
“There’s no plan in place, so we’ve got to take it day by day,” Suggs said. “We went out there and practiced yesterday, see how it felt. I’ll practice today, see how it feels, and I’ll practice tomorrow and see how it feels. Come Sunday, I may or may not be out there. We’ll all make the decision if it’s good for me to go out there and play.”
Suggs revealed there are no plans for his family to attend the game in Houston, which contradicts Schefter’s Thursday morning report saying friends and family would be attending the road contest against the Texans.
Entering his 10th season in Baltimore, Suggs has become more influential and has received more leeway from the organization in recent seasons. His return on Sunday still appears to be a long shot, but he will receive considerable say in making any decision.
“One of the things that I’ve always felt [is] nobody knows themselves better than a good professional player,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “A young guy sometimes may not have enough experience to know whether he can go or not. I think experienced pros know when I can’t go and I might be hurting the team.”
Multiple reports and sources have pointed to a likely return in November after the Ravens’ Week 8 bye, which takes place next week. It would appear risky to allow Suggs to play against the Texans with only three days of practice time.
Appearing heavier on the practice field than he did last season, Suggs expressed no concerns with his weight, joking that he wasn’t taking part in a “beauty contest.” However, he did acknowledge not wanting to push his body too quickly in fear of suffering a setback with the surgically-repaired Achilles tendon.
There’s also the question of how quickly Suggs will be in optimum shape to avoid putting himself at risk for other injuries such as hamstring strains and groin pulls that are occasionally associated with players not being in shape.
“That’s always a concern. You know how the guys are in this locker room,” Suggs said. “We all want to be out there when we can, so that’s always going to be there. That’s why I’ve got the people around me that I trust with my position coach, Ted Monachino, and [Harbaugh]. We’re going to make the decision as a group, whether it’d be better for me to either sit out or suit up. So, we’ll see.”
The Ravens currently rank 26th in total defense and are tied for 23rd in the league with only 10 sacks this season. The Baltimore defense also allowed back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances against Kansas City and Dallas and surrendered a franchise-record 227 rushing yards against the Cowboys.