OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It may not be this Sunday against the Washington Redskins, but Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs says he’ll be back on the field this season.
The cautious optimism was welcomed after news of the five-time Pro Bowl selection tearing his right biceps in the Ravens’ 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Suggs declared himself a game-time decision this week but expressed confidence that injured reserve was “not an option” for the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year.
“I haven’t ruled [playing this Sunday] out of my mind yet, but I think definitely I will continue to line up at some point this season,” Suggs said. “It all depends on when it starts to get better and how much I can really do on it.”
Suggs received a second opinion after the initial diagnosis of a torn biceps in his right arm, which confirmed what they already knew and gave the 30-year-old a clear understanding of the injury.
Others have played with similar injuries, including Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby this season, but Suggs has been in discussions with the Ravens’ training staff and doctors to consider the realities of playing with such an ailment.
“He has, basically, a biceps, a very serious strain,” Harbaugh said. “It could be called a tear. It’s something that you can possibly play with. He’s figuring it out now with the trainers and the doctors.”
Suggs already made one triumphant return to the field earlier this season after suffering a partially-torn Achilles tendon in late April. Doubted by many when he vowed to return to play during the 2012 season, Suggs rehabbed at a rapid rate and returned to action less than six months after suffering the tear the weekend of the NFL Draft.
In six games this season, Suggs has 19 tackles and two sacks. He spent the first six weeks of the regular season on the physically unable to perform list while the Ravens collected only 10 sacks in their first six games. They have 17 in the six games in which Suggs has played.
Now he faces the reality of working his way back from another significant ailment in addition to continuing to try to regain his full level of explosiveness enjoyed before the Achilles injury. Even when Suggs decides to return to action with his injured biceps, questions will remain about his ability to wrap for tackles and engage with blockers at the line of scrimmage.
“My [big] concern is would I help or hinder the team by playing.” Suggs said. “I don’t want to be out there and can’t make a play because I’m unhealthy and I don’t have a full biceps. It’s more if I will help us or hinder us by playing. That’s pretty much going to make my decision.”
Suggs acknowledged the risk for re-injury but explained that he can’t be thinking about it if he’s going to contribute to the Ravens’ playoff run. Baltimore is currently tied for second in the AFC with a 9-3 record.
“I think any time you have an injury and you play with it, you risk making it worse,” Suggs said. “But if I do play, that won’t be a concern on my mind. We got a job to do and we’ve got to get a win.”
When fully healthy, Suggs is regarded by most as the Ravens’ best defensive player and had only missed three games in his entire career prior to this season. For the Ravens to have their best chance of making another deep playoff run, Suggs will need to play through the pain to offer his presence to a pass rush that’s struggled mightily in games without him this season.
At this point, however, teammates only wish the star defensive player would catch a lucky break.
“He’s done such a great job in getting himself to the point where he could come back and be a help to our team,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Then, to have something like that happen, you kind of take for granted how fortunate we are to go out there and play every week.”
If one thing is certain, however, it’s that no one will be doubting Suggs’ resiliency and ability to recover quickly this time arouond.
“We’ve got to see how it goes,” Suggs said. “We kind of live by the creed that if you can breathe, then you can play.”