Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs Looking Like Their Old Selves


Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith Sr. got the questions all offseason.

Can you be the same player at your age after a torn Achilles? Are you worried about your explosiveness? What are realistic expectations for you?

The veteran players knew that plenty of people had doubts about what they could accomplish this season. But after three games, both of them are looking much like the difference makers they were before the injuries.

Smith is coming off the best game of the season where he caught eight passes for 87 yards, including a critical fourth-down snag in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning field goal. Suggs already has three sacks on the year, and two of them came in the fourth quarter last week when the Ravens needed the defense to come up with key stops.

"We are playing inspired football, but we know we have a lot of work to do," Suggs said.  "That is what we are committed to."

Throughout his recovery, Suggs has hesitated to make any comparisons to how he felt prior to the injury. He's maintained an attitude of getting better each day, and said on several occasions, "I'm just going to keep chopping wood."

But his impact on the defense is evident.

Suggs is tied with Timmy Jernigan for the team lead in sacks, and he's also continued to be a valuable defender against the run. Suggs can set the edge to take away the outside running game, and he hasn't lost that skill since suffering his second torn Achilles in the last four years.

The Ravens are being cautious with Suggs' snap count. He has been an every down player for most of his career, but he's been part of a rotation to start this season.

"You have to understand that the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint," Suggs said. "You don't want to come off the blocks and out of the gate just sprinting. You just kind of have to watch it. Everyone knows that we play our best football in November, December around here."

The Ravens have taken a similar approach with Smith. He missed the entire preseason and has taken 64 percent of the offensive snaps in the first three games.

When he's on the field, the Ravens have made a clear effort to get him involved. He leads the team with 26 targets, and he's second in both catches (16) and yards (170).

"Steve is what he has been all along," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "He is a great player, and I think he has gotten himself in shape really good in the offseason and come back just as strong as he has ever been."

Smith has also shown he hasn't lost an ounce of his competitiveness. That was clear last week when he got into a scuffle with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and then the two of them exchanged a war of words after the game.

"I saw a lot of competitive fire," Head Coach John Harbaugh said about Smith. "He was critical for us. He made some huge chunk plays for us when we needed him the most. I haven't had any concerns about Steve, really, at all, all year. I'm sure glad he's on our side, and I'm looking forward to how he plays this week."

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