Eisenberg: Terrell Suggs Is One Of Ravens' Biggest Enigmas


On the great spectrum of world events, Terrell Suggs' silence is hardly a big deal.

The Ravens' veteran outside linebacker hasn't addressed the media since before he suffered a torn Achilles at the start of the 2015 season, so sure, it was disappointing when he declined again to speak publicly at last week's mandatory minicamp. But it wasn't like he voted to leave the European Union or anything.

In the statement he released in lieu of taking questions, Suggs said his state-of-Sizzle address would come soon enough.

"I know there are many questions about where I am with my injury," the statement read. "While I respect the media's right to ask, I hope everyone can respect that I'm 100% focused on rehabbing and preparing to be the best player I can be at the start of our season. I will address all of those questions during training camp."

In other words, Suggs plans to speak in late July or early August, as opposed to mid-June.

It's a brief delay, not exactly momentous, but it does mean Suggs will be one of the Ravens' biggest enigmas heading into training camp.

He's right about the media – and the public – wanting to ask questions, as in plural, to get a sense of where he stands for 2016. Where is he physically? What kind of shape is he in? Where is he mentally? At the Ravens' 2015 minicamp, he said he thought he might be on "the back nine" of his career, suddenly sounding like a wistful guy contemplating the end. Is he still in that mode?

Right now, we just don't know. The Ravens' other thirtysomething leaders all spoke to the media during minicamp, and Suggs, 33, reportedly was involved behind the scenes at the Under Armour Performance Center, but he was neither seen nor heard.

In his absence, others spoke for him. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said Suggs "looks good" and is "working hard" and seemed pointed toward being ready when training camp began. But Harbaugh also warned, "You can't guarantee anything." Elvis Dumervil expressed confidence that he and Suggs would inflict damage on opposing quarterbacks in 2016, as they did the last time they lined up together for any length of time, in 2014.

Although Dumervil said he doesn't communicate routinely with Suggs during the offseason, he said Suggs "is a great teammate, a great player and a very confident guy, so he's going to do what he needs to do to make sure we can get what we need to get done."

The stakes are high. When the Ravens' decision-makers spoke to the media after the 2015 season, Owner Steve Bisciotti singled out Suggs' early-season injury as especially devastating to the team's fortunes. There was an obvious trickle-down effect. Dumervil received extra attention from blockers, which cut down on his impact. As the pass rush suffered, opposing quarterbacks had more time to pick apart the Ravens' secondary.

"The one thing I think I underestimated was when Suggs went down," Bisciotti said. "It was the biggest domino effect of losing one guy."

Needless to say, the Ravens want that "one guy" back.

There are reasons to feel optimistic about Suggs' ability to contribute in 2016. His injury occurred so early in the 2015 season that he has had more time than usual to rehab and prepare for a comeback. When he tore his other Achilles during the offseason in May 2012, he was back in time for the second half of the season and the Ravens' Super Bowl run.

But on the other hand, he's four years older now.

Regardless, the Ravens are counting on him. Even though they've started developing a new generation of outside linebackers, they still believe Suggs can be a three-down player, setting the edge on runs as well as rushing quarterbacks on passes.

Is he confident he will be able to provide that?

It's the question everyone wants answered, and soon enough, Suggs … wait for it … wait some more … will step in front of a microphone and give the answer.

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