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Suggs on being road villain: “You’re not supposed to like me”

Posted on 26 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With many still discussing his controversial hit on Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is taking the criticism from Eagles players and fans in stride.

In fact, it’s the kind of role the 32-year-old has embraced throughout his 13-year NFL career.

“I think you’re naturally the villain when you go into an opponent’s stadium anyway,” Suggs said. “You might as well not shy away from it. You might as well just bask in it and enjoy it. I’m not supposed to be the opponent’s favorite player. You’re not supposed to like me. I don’t play for you. I represent Ravens nation, so I just enjoy it.”

Though the NFL announced this week that Suggs should not have been penalized for the first-quarter hit on Bradford in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Eagles, many still took exception to him hitting the Eagles signal caller’s knees after he suffered left ACL injuries in each of the last two years.

Asked to respond to Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s harsh words about the league’s protection of its quarterbacks, Suggs was diplomatic while taking a playful jab at his own general manager’s prominent role in making decisions regarding the rules.

“Those guys get a lot of our sponsors,” said Suggs of quarterbacks. “A lot of those guys are good-looking guys, so you don’t want to damage them too much. It’s still the most valuable position on the field, so you’ve got to protect them.

“But if we’ve got anybody to blame, it’s all on Ozzie Newsome. He’s on the competition committee, so he kind of helped put the rules in. Probably have to talk to Ozzie about that.”

Suggs says he’s had plenty of dialogue with Newsome about the subject, but he admitted not wanting to see his own quarterback, Joe Flacco, in harm’s way.

“He said the quarterback keeps a lot of people employed, so we’ve got to protect them,” said Suggs about Newsome’s thoughts. “I understand — I wouldn’t want my guy getting mistreated.”

Offensive line in flux

Six offensive linemen remained sidelined during Wednesday’s practice, including starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (arm) and starting left guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles tendon).

The problem is further compounded with both James Hurst (concussion) and Ryan Jensen (undisclosed) missing the workout after both saw time at left tackle against Philadelphia. Should none of the aforementioned players be available to play in the third preseason game against Washington on Saturday, the Ravens could be forced to move backup right tackle Jah Reid to the blind side.

Would an unsettled line situation impact how much Flacco plays against the Redskins?

“If something happens in the game, it possibly could,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “But the way we’re going into the game, we’re comfortable with the guys that are going to play and start on the offensive line. [We think] that they’ll do a great job.”

Rookie offensive tackles De’Ondre Wesley (knee) and Darryl Baldwin were also missing from Wednesday’s practice while fellow rookie Blaine Clausell returned to the field.

Injury report

In addition to the six offensive linemen, the Ravens were without cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (hamstring), Rashaan Melvin, and Tramain Jacobs, wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Michael Campanaro (soft tissue issue), linebacker Steve Means (groin), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) on Wednesday.

Melvin has now missed three straight practices, but the Ravens coach wouldn’t specify exactly what the ailment is.

“He’s got a soft-tissue issue that he’s working through — probably a typical training camp thing — so we’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know if he’ll be there or not on Saturday. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

The third-year cornerback missed two practices at the beginning of the month with a hamstring strain.

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Suggs’ hit on Bradford probably unnecessary, but point spot on

Posted on 23 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Like it or not, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has developed a reputation around the NFL for being a dirty player.

So, it came as no surprise that his penalized hit on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford drew plenty of criticism after Saturday’s game. Eagles tackle Jason Peters said he was “pretty sure he planned it” after the teams practiced together all week.

It was probably unnecessary for Suggs to hit Bradford in the knees, but a quarterback isn’t supposed to be treated as a “quarterback” when running the read option, a play in which one defensive player is responsible for the quarterback potentially keeping the ball while another defender targets the running back. When the league goes to desperate lengths to protect its quarterbacks, we’ll find plenty of examples like this one that make us ask where we draw the line and officials face the same problem in real time.

It’s not a defensive player’s job to stand there as the play develops and think, “Did he really sell the threat to run enough with that read-option play?” Any football player will tell you indecisiveness leads to big plays by the opposition and potential injury to yourself.

Ultimately, it’s a violent game in which players get hurt and have gotten hurt countless times. It’s not a defensive player’s responsibility to be thinking about a quarterback’s medical history, particularly if he’s executing a play in which he frequently serves as a runner.

Regardless of the play itself, Suggs’ comments after the game were spot on as it relates to Eagles coach Chip Kelly and the handling of his new quarterback in Philadelphia.

“When you run the read option, you have to know the rules,” Suggs said. “If you want to run the read option with your starting quarterback that has had two knee surgeries, that’s on you. That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rules. I could have hit him harder than that. I eased up.”

The comments sound harsh, but Suggs is right.

And whether the hit to the knee was intentional or not — hitting a ball carrier in that area isn’t illegal, just to be clear — Bradford is an easy target if the Eagles insist on using the read-option attack. He’s going to be hit and potentially hit in the knees.

This isn’t a matter of wishing ill will on Bradford as you hope he can finally stay healthy.

It’s just football.

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Ravens don’t learn much from ugly night in Philly

Posted on 23 August 2015 by Luke Jones

PHILADELPHIA — Midway through the second quarter of the Ravens’ 40-17 preseason defeat to Philadelphia on Saturday, one question came to mind in regards to the abysmal performance.

How much uglier might it have been had Baltimore not practiced against the Eagles the previous three days?

Head coach John Harbaugh said his team had “plenty to learn” from one of the worst preseason performances in franchise history and cited the lack of game-planning against Chip Kelly’s unique offensive attack as a factor, but when Bryn Renner, Terrence Magee, Fitz Toussaint, and Tom Nelson figure prominently into your first scoring drive after you’ve already given up 30 points, it isn’t difficult to conclude how the night went.

What was reinforced on Saturday is that you’ll get your butts kicked in the NFL if you’re banged up and play poorly.

As frustrating as it was to watch, it was only a preseason game, making the performance ugly but inconsequential to the big picture as the Ravens will go back to work on Monday. Joe Flacco threw interceptions on the first two offensive possessions, the defense couldn’t stop the run, and the Ravens committed nine penalties for 82 yards in the first half — four others were declined by the Eagles over the first 30 minutes — but none of those factors should have anyone rethinking Baltimore’s expectations for the 2015 season just yet.

The injuries are concerning, however, as the absence of rookie Breshad Perriman was felt on Flacco’s first interception that came on a deep throw intended for Kamar Aiken, who is hardly a burner in terms of speed. Flacco isn’t free of blame as the pass was underthrown, but you couldn’t help but assume a play like that is designed for the speedy Perriman, who was taken in the first round of this year’s draft to replace Torrey Smith.

Perriman still hasn’t practiced since injuring his knee on July 30 and the Ravens are without a wideout who can stretch the field until the 6-foot-2 Central Florida product finally returns to action. Three weeks still remain before the season opener in Denver, but it’s fair to wonder how ready he’ll be to make a significant impact early in the season after missing so much valuable practice time this month.

The current state of the offensive line is also a mess as the night began with starters Kelechi Osemele and Rick Wagner sidelined and only got worse from there. James Hurst drew the start at right tackle in place of Wagner since backup right tackle Jah Reid was also out with back spasms, but Hurst exited the game with a concussion in the first quarter and was replaced by rookie De’Ondre Wesley, who promptly injured his knee.

It was unthinkable to see Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda move out to right tackle in a preseason game when the Ravens have a 90-man roster, but that’s what it came to late in the first quarter. Fortunately, Flacco’s health remained intact as the Ravens had to wonder if director of player development and Super Bowl XXXV right tackle Harry Swayne might need to suit up before the night was over.

How concerning are the injuries with nine offensive linemen — left tackle Eugene Monroe was also seen icing his arm on the sideline — currently less than 100 percent?

“Those guys are all slated to come back, to my knowledge,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see about Wesley. I don’t think there’s anybody else off the top of my head that wouldn’t be slated to come back. At one point, we had three guys playing out of position who had never practiced [at their new spots] before. I thought they did a pretty good job with that.

“That’s the preseason. That’s how it works.”

Thankfully, it was only the preseason.

Because the impact of the injuries and the overall sloppiness weren’t indicative of a team with high aspirations for 2015.

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Ravens’ depth equipped to endure disappointing Urban injury

Posted on 09 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were intrigued with defensive end Brent Urban’s upside for 2015, but a deep defensive line appears equipped to overcome his second serious injury in a little over a year.

As was the case last summer prior to Urban tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the Ravens anticipated the 2014 fourth-round pick being an important part of the rotation with the potential to eventually move into the starting lineup. However, the presence of veterans Chris Canty, Lawrence Guy, and DeAngelo Tyson makes the injury easier to stomach despite the disappointment for the talented 6-foot-7 defensive end.

“That’s why coaches [always talk about] the next person to come up and execute and step up,” nose tackle Brandon Williams said. “We’re ready to go. We definitely wish him the best going in with his biceps and all, but the show must go on.”

A pair of offseason decisions now carry more significance in the aftermath of the Urban injury as the Ravens elected to re-sign both Canty and Guy after they hit the open market. After starting 24 games for Baltimore over the last two seasons, Canty was cut to save salary cap space this offseason before eventually being re-signed at a cheaper rate.

Some had believed the Ravens were prepared to get younger at the position before deciding to reunite with the 32-year-old. Now, they’ll need Canty to hold off Father Time a little longer after he contemplated retirement over the winter.

“Chris Canty is playing like a kid. He’s running around out there,” Harbaugh said. “I saw him chasing down a crack toss. He came under a block and was picking up his knees and chasing the thing down the line of scrimmage like he was 23 years old again. He looks good.”

Defensive line coach Clarence Brooks stresses the importance of his players being versatile enough to line up at multiple positions, but the Ravens’ biggest strength will be their sheer numbers in the trenches as there are eight linemen who project to have a reasonable chance to make the 53-man roster. The likes of Tyson, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Christo Bilukidi now see their roster chances likely improve with Urban’s injury.

Harbaugh didn’t give any indication that the Ravens would actively seek defensive line help after losing Urban, who has yet to play in even a preseason game in an injury-riddled start to his career. The group’s ceiling is likely lower without Urban, but the Ravens defensive line remains in good shape.

“We’re really deep in the [defensive] line, so I like the guys we have,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a deep group, and I’m really confident those guys will step up.”

Receiver concerns continue

The Ravens could be inching closer to getting rookie Breshad Perriman and the 6-foot-5 Marlon Brown back from injuries, but they continue to be hamstrung at the wide receiver position in the meantime.

In addition to the pair being sidelined, veteran starter Steve Smith was excused from Saturday’s practice due to a family matter and Kamar Aiken was given the day off due to being “fatigued,” according to Harbaugh.

With Baltimore’s top four receivers missing from the workout, Jeremy Butler, Michael Campanaro, and Darren Waller took most of the reps with the starting offense. Overall, the trio struggled to get consistent separation when competing against the starting defense.

The receiver absences created an opportunity for under-the-radar wideouts to make a statement, and rookie free agent DeAndre Carter caught a touchdown pass from backup Matt Schaub with cornerback Cassius Vaughn in coverage. Meanwhile, former Washington Redskin Aldrick Robinson was the opposite of impressive, dropping several passes over the course of the afternoon.

Harbaugh wouldn’t rule out Perriman for the preseason opener just yet, but it appears highly unlikely that the first-round pick will be ready to play on Thursday with only one partial practice under his belt to this point in the summer.

Meanwhile, Brown appears closer to returning as Harbaugh said his back is feeling better, but the Ravens are still waiting for his hamstring to improve, meaning he is unlikely to play against New Orleans, either.

Mosley in coverage

One of the more encouraging developments early in the summer has been the improved pass coverage from second-year inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

In what was an otherwise standout Pro Bowl season as a rookie, Mosley struggled in pass coverage a year ago, but he’s been much sharper covering tight ends and running backs so far in training camp.

Early in Saturday’s practice, Mosley broke perfectly on a Joe Flacco throw to Crockett Gillmore in the flat, intercepting the pass from the starting quarterback. However, the starting tight end got the best of Mosley later in practice, catching a touchdown during an 11-on-11 red-zone period.

Injury report

In addition to their top four receivers being absent, the Ravens were without offensive linemen John Urschel (concussion) and Robert Myers (concussion), cornerback Tray Walker (hamstring), and linebacker Zach Thompson (undisclosed) due to injuries on Saturday. Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and safety Terrence Brooks (knee) both observed parts of practice while remaining on the physically unable to perform list.

Tyson missed his second straight practice, but Harbaugh said he was unsure of there being an injury, adding that “something must have cropped up.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith and right guard Marshal Yanda were given the day off, according to Harbaugh.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele (foot) suited up to practice before leaving the field early in the session. He missed two days of practice after being stepped on during Wednesday’s workout. Tight end Maxx Williams practiced for a brief time after sitting out Friday, but he was still feeling the effects of being poked in the eye on Thursday.

With Yanda and Osemele both absent, Ryan Jense and Jah Reid worked as the first-team guards.

Free safety Kendrick Lewis tweaked his leg early on Saturday and observed the rest of practice from the sideline, an indication that the injury was unlikely to be serious.

Cornerback Chris Greenwood (hamstring) returned to practice.

Suggs on Schaub

Saturday was another difficult day for Schaub, who was repeatedly off-target with a number of throws.

At one point in practice, veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs took notice of Schaub’s errant passing before finally yelling, “Hey, Matt, your guys are the guys in purple!”

The offense dons purple jerseys while defensive players wear white during practices.

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High expectations replace distractions for this year’s Ravens

Posted on 30 July 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A year ago at this time, the Ravens were in the midst of the most trying season in the 20-year history of the franchise with the dark cloud of the Ray Rice saga and four other player arrests hanging over their heads.

So you’ll forgive them for relishing the relative peace since three former players — Terrence Cody, Bernard Pierce, and Victor Hampton — were arrested and promptly released early this offseason. The focus was solely on football Thursday as the Ravens officially began training camp with their first full-squad practice.

“We’re happy with it, because last year, it was very uncomfortable,” veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “A lot of us [haven’t] been in that type of situation like that before, but it’s good to come into camp with no major negative storyline concerning us. We’re just ready to get after it. We’re ready to capitalize on things we did great last year and definitively get rid of some of the things we didn’t do so [well].”

This summer, the distractions have been replaced by higher-than-usual expectations for the Ravens despite parting ways with five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, starting receiver Torrey Smith, rush specialist Pernell McPhee, starting tight end Owen Daniels, and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Those losses would have many teams rebuilding and being forced to look toward the future, but general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens are equipped to deal with change immediately after consecutive draft classes that they feel really good about.

The rest of the football world has taken notice with many praising the Ravens’ deep roster and considering them a top contender to win the Super Bowl despite significant personnel changes.

“They do a great job of bringing good guys in and continuing to build the team every year,” said four-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda about the front office. “We try to get better and better. That’s what the Ravens do, and it seems like it this year again. We’re all excited to be out here.”

Of course, many questions must be answered as the Ravens try to replace the aforementioned names with players primarily in their first or second year in the NFL.

How will defensive coordinator Dean Pees mix and match to fill the massive void left behind by Ngata?

Is rookie first-round pick Breshad Perriman ready to become Joe Flacco’s new deep threat?

Can new offensive coordinator Marc Tresetman pick up where Kubiak left off a year ago?

Those are just to name a few.

Head coach John Harbaugh’s team will be tested early with five of their first seven regular-season games on the road, the kind of stretch where success could put them in prime position to secure a home playoff game — or better — and failure could create a treacherous climb in the second half of the season to simply make the playoffs.

Why are the Ravens so confident in their rookies and veteran newcomers to pick up the slack left behind by departing players on an annual basis?

Six playoff appearances in the last seven years goes a long way in setting expectations for anyone walking into the building.

“They know what’s expected, because they’ve watched this team in January so much,” Harbaugh said. “I mentioned to [former Ravens linebacker and current scouting intern] Jarret Johnson last night that we’ve had some bad-ass teams around here. That’s what these guys have to understand — what the standard is.”

Even if thankful not to be dealing with the turmoil of last season, returning players — particularly the ones not involved in any off-field transgressions — can take pride in the way they handled the adversity to still go 10-6 and win a playoff game before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Perhaps that memory is one veterans will share with newcomers joining an organization with championship aspirations every year.

But for now, the Ravens are just glad to be back to the business of football with little else entering the conversation.

“When you’re in training camp, it’s tough to think about too many other things,” Flacco said. “I know we had a little bit of a distraction last year, but I thought we did a good job of putting that behind us and taking it for what it was. I guess it’s nice, but I think that [football] was our main concern last year, too.”

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Suggs down to “fighting” weight as he reports for training camp

Posted on 29 July 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — One of the topics of discussion in an otherwise quiet mandatory minicamp for the Ravens last month was the weight and conditioning of veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Acknowledging at the time that he hadn’t worked out as rigorously as in past offseasons, Suggs still has work to do to get down to his listed weight of 265 pounds, but the six-time Pro Bowl selection didn’t sound concerned about his conditioning upon reporting to Owings Mills on Wednesday. He took part in all three minicamp practices in June, but he says he feels a lot better after working out in Arizona over the last five weeks.

“I totally feel a lot different from the last time I was up here,” Suggs said on the eve of the first full-squad training camp practice. “I can be totally honest with you. I feel great, and we’re ready to get out here and work at camp.”

Entering his 13th season, Suggs already holds the franchise’s all-time sacks record and his 106 1/2 quarterback takedowns rank 24th on the all-time NFL list.

Suggs’ weight has been a topic of discussion in the past, but a player with his impressive list of credentials deserves the benefit of the doubt at this stage of his career. Unlike a month ago when he acknowledged having plenty of work to do for another NFL season, Suggs says his weight is under better control with an eye on shedding more pounds during the sweltering days of camp.

“We’ve shed some [pounds] — a lot,” said Suggs, who added that he passed the team’s conditioning test “convincingly” after reporting. “But I’m not quite at the weight [I want]. We’re at a good fighting weight. That’s what we’re here for and we’ll use this time to shed some more. It’s going to be hot out here, so we’re going to be looking forward to it.”

Unusually reflective last month about his career in Baltimore and uncertain about his future beyond this season, Suggs is more concerned with winning another Super Bowl rather than boosting an individual legacy that could put him in impressive company by the time his career concludes.

Despite a number of free-agent departures this offseason, the Ravens have clear championship aspirations, the kind of territory with which Suggs has been familiar over his long career.

“We all kind of know the expectations,” Suggs said. “We know what we did do great last year, and we know where we finished at. We fell short, and we don’t want to fall short anymore. You want to keep progressing. You want to keep getting better, and it all starts with today and going out there tomorrow.”

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2015 Ravens training camp preview: Linebackers

Posted on 23 July 2015 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens beginning their 20th training camp in franchise history this month, expectations are high for John Harbaugh’s team as they eye their seventh trip to the postseason in eight years.

As veterans report to Owings Mills on July 29th and the first full-squad workout takes place the following day, we’ll examine each position group entering the summer.

July 20: Quarterbacks
July 21: Defensive line
July 22: Running backs
July 23: Linebackers
July 24: Wide receivers
July 25: Tight ends
July 26: Cornerbacks
July 27: Offensive line
July 28: Safeties
July 29: Specialists

Below is a look at the Baltimore linebackers:

LINEBACKERS 
LOCK: Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Za’Darius Smith
BUBBLE: Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan, Zachary Orr, Steven Means, Brennen Beyer, Zach Thompson
LONG SHOT: Andrew Bose

Synopsis: The Ravens’ top four of Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, C.J. Mosley, and Daryl Smith are as good as any linebacker quartet you’ll find around the league, but depth is certainly a question mark for this unit as free-agent-to-be Courtney Upshaw is the only other linebacker on the roster who played more than 42 defensive snaps last season. This may not be a major factor for 2015, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has to be thinking about the need to get younger at the position with Suggs, Dumervil, and Smith all on the wrong side of 30. The good news is that it appears the Ravens found the anchor of their defense for years to come with Mosley becoming the first player in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. If the 2014 first-round pick can improve in pass coverage, he could quickly solidify his standing as one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL.

One to watch: Saddled with the burden of needing to replace situational pass rusher Pernell McPhee this offseason, the Ravens selected Za’Darius Smith from Kentucky in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Besides wearing No. 90 and sporting dreadlocks, Smith plays with a similar style and reminded the organization of McPhee during the pre-draft evaluation process. Considering Upshaw has never shown consistent ability to get after the quarterback, it will be of the utmost importance for Smith to be able to step in for Suggs and Dumervil and to apply some pressure in the pocket on a part-time basis.

One on notice: There’s no way to sugarcoat how disappointing Arthur Brown has been after he didn’t take a defensive snap last season, meaning this summer could be make-or-break time for the 2013 second-round pick. Brown was active for just four games in his second season, meaning Baltimore didn’t even see enough value in him as a special-teams player. No one would suggest at this point that he needs to overtake Mosley or Daryl Smith for a starting job, but Brown must show a better understanding of the defense and improved ability on special teams or it might be time to cut bait.

Sleeper: Zach Orr was one of the surprises to make the 53-man roster out of training camp last year, but it will be interesting to see if the former undrafted free agent becomes a bigger factor as a defensive player in his second season. With Brown disappointing and special-teams standout Albert McClellan scheduled to carry a $1.2 million cap figure, Orr has a golden opportunity to step forward as the primary backup at the inside linebacker position and to further solidify his standing on the roster. With Mosley sidelined in the spring due to wrist surgery, Orr received quite a few of the defensive reps before Brown.

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Suggs adjusting to life as last man standing from old Ravens defense

Posted on 17 June 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Terrell Suggs was all smiles on Tuesday, but the longtime Ravens linebacker is adjusting to major change as he moves toward his 13th NFL season.

Reporting to the team’s Owings Mills training facility for a three-day mandatory minicamp, Suggs was reminded of the offseason departure of five-time defensive tackle Haloti Ngata simply by looking to the locker next to his. The 32-year-old laughed while describing the funny look he offered second-year offensive tackle James Hurst, who now occupies the quarters previously used by Suggs’ close friend and teammate of nine years.

Admitting surprise upon learning Ngata had been traded to the Detroit Lions on March 10, Suggs said the right things on Tuesday, but you could tell it’s something he’s not yet gotten over more than three months later.

“Me and Haloti are very close, so it definitely was kind of weird coming back and him not being here,” Suggs said. “But the show must go on. We wish Haloti the most tremendous success until they play us. He’ll always be a Raven in spirit, but I’m just trying to cope with it for right now.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Suggs has faced seismic change to the Baltimore defense. Two years ago, he was answering questions about the retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of safety Ed Reed, two future Hall of Famers who had led Suggs on the field and in the locker room throughout the first decade of his career.

But that transition was made easier by having Ngata next to him as the two Pro Bowl players walked out to the practice field together on a daily basis to lead the first defense in team history not to feature Lewis.

Now, Suggs is hardly alone with the likes of fellow Pro Bowl linebackers Elvis Dumervil and C.J. Mosley and young cornerback Jimmy Smith serving as impact players and leaders in a very talented group, but he can’t help but feel like the last man standing from the old guard of Ravens defense that dominated year after year.

“It’s [season] 13, so it’s weird. It’s a whole new look, a whole new team,” Suggs said. “Like I said, I’m just trying to enjoy it. It’s a whole new feel. But it’s definitely weird having everybody kind of just go on.”

Never one to take himself too seriously, Suggs was as reflective as we’ve ever seen him in discussing his career on Tuesday, repeatedly making mention of this being his 13th season and how long he’s been around.

Last year, the Arizona State product eclipsed the 100-sack mark for his career and matched his second-highest single-season sack total with 12, but Suggs sounds more like a man reaching the light at the end of the tunnel than one obsessed with moving up the list of career sacks from the 24th spot he currently occupies. Asked about his individual goals for 2015, Suggs simply stated he hopes to be better than he was last year while shifting the focus to his hopes for the Ravens building on last year’s playoff run that ended in the divisional round.

Carrying some extra weight for this week’s mandatory minicamp, Suggs acknowledged treating this offseason differently from past years. He said he’s now more concerned with keeping himself fresh for the latter stages of the season rather than being in optimal shape by June.

“I can participate in practice without getting hurt and without getting tired, but I’m definitely not at my ‘fighting’ weight,” Suggs said. “I’m pretty much at my ‘walking around’ weight. Like I said, this is year 13 for me. I can’t really be stressing. I used to always [say], ‘I need to be ready by minicamp,’ and it used to weigh on me; it used to bother me. I didn’t want to let it bother me this year. I just figured at the 13th year, I owe it to myself to sit, pace yourself.”

To be clear, Suggs never said on Tuesday that 2015 would be his final year, but he made it clear that he’s thinking more about his football mortality and isn’t taking anything for granted. Though proclaiming himself to be a “young” 32 — he’ll turn 33 in October — the 2003 first-round pick acknowledged being on the “back nine” of a career that includes the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year award and six Pro Bowl selections.

Suggs is under contract through the 2018 season after signing a four-year extension last offseason, but you have to wonder if he’ll even come close to playing that out at this point. Witnessing longtime teammates depart over the last couple years would make anyone contemplate his own end.

He sees no reason to change his leadership style with Ngata no longer around and repeatedly expressed confidence in the likes of Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan picking up the slack with the 340-pound veteran no longer anchoring the defensive line. But Suggs is keeping his focus on this season alone as he’s the last remaining member of the old guard leading a Ravens defense in transition.

“I’m really looking forward to this year,” Suggs said “At the end of this year, we’ll talk, but you just kind of take it year by year and see what you can do.”

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Ravens conclude spring preparations with mandatory minicamp

Posted on 16 June 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens conclude nearly two months of spring preparations for the 2015 season this week with their three-day mandatory minicamp.

With training camp roughly six weeks away, head coach John Harbaugh will get his first look at his full 90-man training camp roster this week as veterans who have not attended voluntary organized team activities will be back in Owings Mills. That list includes the likes of linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as well as four-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda.

On Tuesday, Suggs is scheduled to meet with the media for the first time since longtime teammate and five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was traded to the Detroit Lions at the start of free agency in March. It will be interesting to hear what the 32-year-old has to say about being the last man standing of the old guard of Baltimore defense that also included future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

Yanda is also scheduled to answer questions at the podium and will surely be asked about his future as the 30-year-old enters the final season of a five-year contract signed in 2011.

The Ravens will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before players enjoy their final weeks of downtime before the first full-squad training camp practice is held on July 30. Rookies will begin reporting to Owings Mills on July 22 as Baltimore seeks its seventh postseason berth in eight seasons under Harbaugh.

All three minicamp practices will be open to the media.

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Five Ravens questions for start of 2015 OTAs

Posted on 27 May 2015 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens officially begin their organized team activities on Wednesday, below are five questions for this still-early stage of 2015:

1. How is Joe Flacco adjusting to his fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons?

The franchise quarterback’s early reviews of Marc Trestman have been positive, but it has to be frustrating to now be working with a different coordinator for a fourth straight season. Fortunately, Trestman has a good reputation for working with quarterbacks and intends to maintain many of the principles used in Gary Kubiak’s system, which allowed Flacco to have arguably the best regular season of his career. If the veteran weren’t entering his eighth season, this would be a bigger concern, but the 2008 first-round pick has proven he can work with just about anyone over the years.

2. Which players will be healthy enough to participate?

There is an extensive list of players coming off season-ending injuries or offseason surgeries including tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (foot) and Asa Jackson (knee), linebacker C.J. Mosley (wrist surgery), right tackle Rick Wagner (foot), center Jeremy Zuttah (hip surgery), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), and safety Terrence Brooks (knee). Many of these players figure to at least be limited during OTAs. Not counting the uncertainty surrounding Pitta, Brooks appears to be the furthest away as the Ravens have said he’ll likely begin the year on the physically unable to perform list.

3. Will promising slot receiver Michael Campanaro stay healthy?

There has been plenty of offseason hype about the potential of the 2014 seventh-round pick, but head coach John Harbaugh has said over and over that Campanaro needs to prove he can consistently stay on the field and that will begin this spring. Catching seven passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in four games, Campanaro shows promises as both a slot receiver and a punt returner, but hamstring issues plagued him throughout his rookie season. If he wants to make his mark in a crowded group of wide receivers, the 5-foot-9 Campanaro simply staying healthy this spring would be a good start.

4. What will Terrell Suggs have to say about Haloti Ngata being traded?

The silence from the 13th-year linebacker has been deafening as it relates to the departure of longtime teammate Haloti Ngata, whose locker was next to Suggs’ at the Ravens’ Owings Mills training complex. This isn’t to suggest that Suggs and the organization are on poor terms, but you do wonder how it went over in his mind to see Ozzie Newsome deal one of the best players in team history for two mid-round picks. Of course, the 32-year-old understands it’s a business after signing a team-friendly extension a year ago, but it will still be interesting to hear what he has to say about Ngata no longer being in purple.

5. Which veterans will not participate?

We’ll likely have to wait until next month’s mandatory minicamp to hear from Suggs as the Ravens generally have a handful of veterans who skip the voluntary OTAs. The most interesting name to monitor will be four-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, who is entering the final year of a five-year contract. The Ravens want to sign him to an extension, but no deal was close as of a couple weeks ago. Some fans and media will take exception to any veterans skipping OTAs, but their attendance simply doesn’t mean that much to the overall outcome of the 2015 season when it’s all said and done.

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