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Motivated Terrell Suggs Never Considered Retirement


There's two sides to Terrell Suggs. There's Suggs and there's Sizzle.

When Suggs was laid up nearly all of last season after tearing his Achilles in Week 1, he wasn't Sizzle – the loud, smack-talking, quarterback-crushing linebacker.

He was just a guy who couldn't walk for three months, unable to do anything and facing another long road to recovery. Was Sizzle dead?

"When you get hurt, you question it," Suggs said. "But at the end of the day, a zebra can't change his stripes."

Now, Sizzle is (nearly) back. That part of him wasn't extinguished by a second career Achilles injury, not even at age 33.

On the first day of training camp Wednesday, in his first meeting with reporters since the injury on Sept. 13, 2015, Suggs said he never considered hanging up his cleats, and told those questioning how much he has left in the tank to take pause.

"Never did it cross my mind that I wasn't going to come back," Suggs said.

"I've got a lot of promises to keep, many miles before I can sleep. I get up every day and I love football. I love the locker room, I love my teammates, I love being confrontational, I love talking [smack]. It's just part of being Sizzle. I think once I get back to being him, I think all your questions will be answered."

The only thing holding him back from being Sizzle again is getting back on the field. He will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and didn't give an exact timetable for his return, but was optimistic. He said, other than the foot, he feels better at this time than last year.

"It's not going to be long. We're close to where we want to be," Suggs said. "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."

While Suggs was in good spirits Wednesday, he wasn't always that way. His second career Achilles tear was so shocking that Suggs was originally in denial. He told himself that maybe it was just a severe sprain because he could still move his foot.

After the MRI confirmed the worst, Suggs went home to watch the season from afar. He popped up to be a sideline coach and motivator in the Ravens' Week 16 win against the rival Steelers, but, other than that, he was a ghost. That led to questions about his future.

"It was a sucky time for me," Suggs said. "We didn't start [the season] too good. It was just a really bad time. I didn't want it to be about me that I was gone."

Suggs said it was "extremely" difficult to watch last year's 5-11 season. He wants to make sure that team doesn't show up again, and as one of the biggest stars on the team, it will largely be on him to reverse the trend.

Owner Steve Bisciotti said after last season that the loss of Suggs had a bigger ripple effect on the team than even he even expected. Even though the Ravens have added young pass rushers, Suggs is still one of the team's biggest stars.

After being away from football for the longest stretch of his career (his first Achilles injury in 2012 happened in April and he returned to the field in October), Suggs was a bit sentimental about returning to the game. He said he feels most like himself when he's at the Under Armour Performance Center and on the field.

"I miss it a lot," he said. "It's like the girl that got away, but you get another crack at her. She came back around and you kind of want to do right by her."

It's like the injury has done the opposite of what critics feared. It seems Suggs is even more rejuvenated now than he was last year at this time.

Last year, Suggs spoke of his legacy and questioned how many more years he had left. Now he's shoved that talk aside. He said he didn't want to put a cap on how many more years he can play, adding he could still be going strong beyond 37 years old. He said he wants another Super Bowl ring.

"It's 14 years for me [now]," Suggs said. "We've seen a lot of Ravens come and go and I'm one of the last few here. It's a fair question, but in my eyes, premature. I'm a lot younger in spirit than I am in number of years in the league."

Now the question is how effective Suggs will be once he's on the field. The first time he came back from an Achilles tear, he only logged two sacks in eight regular-season games. But he also, helped the team win Super Bowl XLVII.

The following season, Suggs put up 10 sacks. Then he posted 12 sacks in 2014, forming the league's best duo with Elvis Dumervil.

Entering the 2016 season, however, critics are quick to point out that Suggs will turn 34 in October with two Achilles surgeries on his medical report.

"People say you can't do it again," Suggs said with his usual devilish grin. "I guess we're going to find out. … I feel great, baby. I feel like Sizzle."

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