OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens veterans Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith already silenced some critics simply by making their returns to the field for Sunday’s season opener.
Well into their 30s and coming off Achilles tendon injuries last season, Suggs and Smith started and contributed in Baltimore’s 13-7 win despite neither putting up gaudy numbers against Buffalo. Of course, whether they can fully recapture their pre-injury form is a fair question as that type of injury has a debilitating effect on explosiveness for athletes even much younger.
Suggs made two tackles and did collect a fourth-quarter sack after Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor couldn’t find an open receiver on a key third-down play while Smith caught five passes for 19 yards on nine targets.
“I only expect them to get better, but they played well,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “They both played well. They were both key factors in the game. [They were] probably not up to their standards for themselves, because it is a pretty lofty standard for those two guys. That makes me feel good that they feel like they can play even better, but I thought they played well.”
It will be interesting to see how their workload evolves as the season progresses and the Ravens continue to work young players into the mix while maximizing the veterans’ effectiveness.
Smith played 45 of the 68 total offensive snaps, the most of any of the five Baltimore receivers active on Sunday. Suggs has been a three-down linebacker for most of his 14-year career, but he played just 31 of 49 defensive snaps while Za’Darius Smith and Albert McClellan each registered more playing time at the outside linebacker position.
Of course, neither veteran saw much action over the summer as Suggs played only a handful of snaps in the third preseason game and Smith logged just a couple weeks of practice.
“It’s definitely coming. First live action in a year, you know,” Suggs said. “Can’t really count the preseason games because I only got a couple series, so this is my first real live action in about a year. You know I’ll just continue to chop wood.
“You can always get better. It’s my first game and I feel really good about it.”