Aging Terrell Suggs Feels 'Weird' Without Haloti Ngata

Terrell Suggs lost his best friend on the team and his locker neighbor. Second-year offensive tackle James Hurst moved into Haloti Ngata's old locker spot.

"I'm looking at [Hurst] kinda funny," Suggs said. "He's looking at me kind of weird."

There's a lot that felt weird for Suggs upon his return to the Under Armour Performance Center for Tuesday's first day of mandatory minicamp.

It seems that at 32 years old (going on 33 in October) and looking at a lot of younger faces around him, the perrenial young-at-heart jokester is starting to feel his age.

Suggs is the last remaining face of the Ravens' defensive Mount Rushmore. Ray Lewis came in 1996, Ed Reed in 2002, Suggs in 2003 and Ngata in 2006.

The Ravens' trade of Ngata to the Detroit Lions this offseason took Suggs by surprise. He thought, like him, Ngata would retire a Raven. It's almost as if Suggs spoke about Ngata like he was mourning a death.

"Me and Haloti are very close so it was definitely kind of weird coming back and him not being here. But the show must go on," Suggs said. "He'll always be a Raven in spirit. I'm trying to cope with it right now."

Lewis' retirement and Reed's departure after the Ravens' Super Bowl year caused a bigger shift in locker room leadership. Suggs took on more of that responsibility, and other veterans have been added and emerged such as linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive end Chris Canty and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith.

But Suggs did admit it's a different feeling being the last remaining face of another era.

"It's weird. It's a whole new look, whole new team," Suggs said. "I'm just trying to enjoy it. It's a whole new feel, but it's definitely weird kind of having everybody kind of just gone."

The other change is Suggs' offseason training methodology. The past couple years, it seemed Suggs arrived at minicamp determined to prove he was working hard away from the team. He came back looking like an action movie hero. This year, he showed up noticeably heavier with more love in his handles.

"I'm definitely not in 'Sizz shape," Suggs said with a laugh. "I'm not out of shape. I can participate in practice without getting hurt and without getting tired. I'm definitely not at my fighting weight. I'm pretty much at my walking around weight."

Suggs went on to explain his more relaxed offseason conditioning. He figures he still has plenty of time to get in shape by, or during, training camp, and is hoping that the dialed down offseason work will leave more in the tank toward the end of the season.

"I can't really be stressing," Suggs said. "I used to always be like, 'I need to be ready by minicamp,' and it used to weigh on me and bother me. I just didn't want to let it bother me this year. … I'm trying to pace myself. I'm really not trying to do too much right now."

It was unusual to hear Suggs talk so much about being an NFL senior citizen. The jokester is very young at heart and still considers himself to be a young 32, but does feel the effects on his body. The rough and tough AFC North has taken a toll, he says.

"We play a different kind of football here. We have a different kind of training camp. My 32 might not be the next guy's 32," Suggs said. "Thirteen years in the NFL is still 13 years in the NFL."

Suggs just signed a four-year contract extension last offseason through 2018, but says once you get into the teens in years played, "you kind of take it year by year."

"I'm really looking forward to this year," he said. "At the end of this year we'll talk. You just kind of take it year by year and you see how you feel. … I'm definitely on the back nine. You can't say this is Suggs' 2011 [when he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year]."

So what can Ravens fans expect from Suggs at this point of his career? The Ravens are relying on him to still play at a Pro Bowl level, especially with the departure of Ngata and fellow outside linebacker Pernell McPhee.

"Do better than I did last year," Suggs said. "Two years ago, I had 10 sacks. Last year, I had 12 ½. Who knows what we can do this year. Let's start by winning some games in the division. We'll go there and then it will trickle down to the personal stuff."

Get a unique look at the outside linebacker from his youth and behind-the-scenes moments as a Raven.

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