Injured Terrell Suggs Sneaks Around John Harbaugh To Take Conditioning Test … And Passes
With all the chatter about who did not pass Head Coach John Harbaugh's infamous conditioning test –Mike Wallace says it the toughest in the league – here's an interesting tidbit on who did pass it … even though he wasn't required to run it.
Believe it or not, it was outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and has historically hated taking the test.
Harbaugh explained to former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick in this NFL Network video that he's had to protect veterans from themselves this year in camp because they all want to play so badly. For example, Harbaugh said he had to throw veteran guard Marshal Yanda out of practice for a scheduled off day.
So Suggs didn't even bother asking Harbaugh if he could take the conditioning test. He just snuck around him to take it.
"Terrell Suggs, he's coming back from the Achilles, so on his own, unbeknownst to anybody, he grabs the conditioning coach and runs the conditioning test [Saturday] and passes it," Harbaugh said. "And we didn't even make him do it."
Billick, who drafted Suggs in 2003 and coached him for five seasons, was shocked.
"In my day, I had to drag him out here to try to get the conditioning test done," Billick said. "You're doing a heck of a job."
"Well, if he had been out here practicing or healthy … if I had made him do it, I would've had to drag him out," Harbaugh joked.
Yup, that sounds like the Suggs we know.
Given the fact that we haven't seen Suggs in a game or on the practice field for nearly a year, this is a positive sign. Obviously it indicates that Suggs is in good fitness shape (we don't know about football shape yet) because, as we know based off other Ravens failing the test, it's not a cake walk.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, passing the grueling test is a sign that Suggs' injury is healing nicely. The conditioning test would require sudden planting off that surgically-repaired Achilles and a quick burst in order to pass each timed benchmark.
If you listened to Suggs speak to the media last week, you definitely saw the 33-year-old veteran extremely motivated to prove to doubters that he can have a big year despite coming off the serious injury at his age.
The next step in his rehabilitation will be to get on the field, something that, if it were up to him, he'd already be doing. But like Harbs said, he sometimes has to protect players from themselves.
"It's not going to be long [until I'm on the field]," Suggs said Wednesday. "We're close to where we want to be. I'm going to be honest with you. The Ravens side of me is like, '[Screw] it, Sizz, let's go. Let's go play some football.' But I've got to be smart with it. I can't be timid, but I've got to be smart.
"People say you can't do it again. I guess we're going to find out. … I feel great, baby. I feel like Sizzle."
Steve Smith Sr. Had Double Achilles Rupture; Pain So Bad He Wondered 'Why Am I Doing This?'
Turns out, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.'s Achilles injury was worse than we thought.
In a feature by Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei, Smith revealed that he actually sustained a double rupture to his Achilles tendon last November, the first such injury that renowned orthopedic surgeon Robert Anderson had ever seen.
The medical staff took pictures of the tendon during surgery, and Smith's wife, Angie, said the tendon looked like "raw, shredded chicken."
Smith has endured many gnarly injuries during this football career, including a broken neck, but he said nothing was as painful as this one. He's usually on meds for one or two days, but with this one, he was on Oxycontin for about 12 days.
"The day I stopped, about midday I started to get ornery," Smith says. "I got a headache. It was my body craving the medication. I was having withdrawal symptoms."
That's when he dumped the pills down the toilet.
Because Smith was stationary for so long, the muscles in his injured leg started to atrophy. He calls the calf on his left leg the "American calf," and the right one "the calf you can feed for 36 cents a day."
Smith admitted that he's had moments of doubt throughout his rehab process. He has a rented beach house in California that he would think about during workouts in which he'd push his body so far that he would frequently vomit.
"I'm tired. I can see why guys get to a certain age, they say screw it," Smith told Pompei. "I'm not just training to not look fat. I'm training to play in 20 games, to run from other men who are trying to bodyslam me and hurt me. I ain't got to do this. Why am I doing this? I don't have anything to prove to anybody.
"You start to psych yourself out. You lose the belief in your ability because of your age. Age sometimes is more powerful in how we look at things than how we are physically feeling. I realized how negative we can be as we become older. I had to really fight that a lot. I was telling myself, 'I'm too old to come back.' I didn't sleep well."
Those moments of doubt aren't enduring, however. He says he's not afraid to fail because he's already accomplished so much. After being so intense during his first 15 years in the NFL, Smith is taking a different approach in his 16th and final season.
Instead of thinking about September, or hoping for another Super Bowl appearance, he's trying to enjoy the journey. He wants to mentor rookies, he wants to joke with teammates and appreciate the organization that he's become a part of.
As Pompei noted, of course Smith would love to go out with a Lombardi Trophy or being named the Comeback Player of the Year, but that's not his end game.
"If I win a Super Bowl or don't, life doesn't change," Smith said. "What's more valuable to me is all the blessings I've had, the people who invested in me that I never would have known if I wasn't on this road. So to be honest, f--k that ring. I've gained so many more things doing it this way."
Joe Flacco Had A Close Call, And Didn't Even Realize It
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's return from two knee ligament tears has been termed … wait for it … "elite."
From local to national media, the consensus is that Flacco has looked like his old self from day one, slinging 60-yard bombs like it's nothing, stepping into his throws and moving around in the pocket comfortably.
The question is how Flacco will react when someone gets near that surgically-repaired knee. Apparently, there's already been a close call and Flacco didn't even think about it until it was over.
"I'm really not thinking about it out there," Flacco told CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora. "I mean I had a guy step on my foot today as I threw a go route – so obviously they were close to my left knee as it was out there – and I didn't even think about it until afterwards.
"Like, 'Oh man, that was close.' So that was big. It wasn't like I was jittery back there because I don't want to step into my throws. So we'll see when we're out there for real, but I haven't really noticed anything to this point."
Training Camp Observations
There is no shortage of notes and observations coming from training camp practices, and I've compiled many of them for your convenience.
- "Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver. A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. … Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite." – Clifton Brown, CSNMidAtlantic.com
- "The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker. Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo." -- Brown
- "Za'Darius [Smith] is the Man, the Man, the Man. Smith is one of the most critical players on defense who has to step up, especially in light of Terrell Suggs' recovery from a torn Achilles. So far so good. … If you were to compare his progress with Pernell McPhee just in terms of cover skills and open-field instincts, Smith is clearly ahead of where McPhee was in his second year." – Russell Street Report's Dev Panchwagh
- "Mike Wallace - It's safe to say the connection with Flacco is full-tilt. Two touchdowns landing in Mike's arms was great to watch, and only more impressive is him receiving both not on nine routes. Both were on inside based routes. If he can be a multi-tool receiver rather than just a deep threat the Ravens can utilize every aspect of his ability." – Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle P Barber
- "Weddle's effort [is] relentless. In the first four days, safety Eric Weddle has lived up to his reputation as a hard worker, refusing to take plays off even in no- or low-contact drills. Just in Sunday's practice, he jumped in front of a receiver to disrupt the route and force the catch out-of-bounds, dove to try to intercept a deflected pass and jumped another route to break up the pass." – Jake Lourim, The Baltimore Sun
- "In just a few days of training camp, undrafted free agent linebacker Patrick Onwuasor has begun to make a name for himself. Earlier in the week he pushed down running back Kenneth Dixon, who suffered a minor injury on the play. The next day, Buck Allen* *initiated a fight with him. Sunday, Onwuasor ran downfield on a special teams drill and crushed defensive tackle Trevon Coley, who was holding a tackling dummy, landing Coley on his back. Later in practice, in a live drill, Onwuasor delivered a hard hit to fullback Kyle Juszczyk on a run. Juszczyk got back up and pushed Onwuasor back before teammates broke up the scuffle." – Lourim
Gillmore Reportedly Tweaks Hamstring, Awaiting MRI Results
While Harbaugh has not given an update on tight end Crockett Gillmore after he left practice early Friday, reports indicate that the third-year veteran will undergo an MRI after tweaking his hamstring.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley tweeted that it wasn't "too bad of an injury," but will need some down time to recover.
"Gillmore walked off the field with a trainer with about 45 minutes left in practice, and it's unknown how he suffered the injury," wrote Hensley.
"Fortunately for the Ravens, the team has depth at tight end. Baltimore still has Benjamin Watson, Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle (who will miss the first 10 regular-season games due to suspension)."