Linebacker Terrell Suggs didn't want to get a late jump on his offseason regimen.
With a goal of slimming down and reclaiming his status among the NFL's elite pass rushers, Suggs was at Ravens headquarters on Monday morning to participate in the team's voluntary conditioning program.
"I think it's important and benefits us as a team," he said of the Ravens' regimen, which officially began this week. "Where we're trying to go, it's going to take all of us working together. I'm glad that I'm here."
To Suggs, who said he weighed nearly 280 pounds at times last season, a major focus of his offseason is dropping down to a more comfortable 260 pounds.
The Arizona State product is focusing on a strict diet and regular attendance at the Ravens' training facility to achieve the new look.
"I liked the way my body used to look in my uniform, so I'm trying to get that back," Suggs said with a laugh. "I put on weight so I could be stronger against the run, but I've always been good against the run. I'm trying to get back down to my normal weight, 260-265. I'm looking forward to being the best player I can be for my team.
"I'm a grown man, I can't eat like my kids anymore. My little girl is my ultimate tempter. She's like, 'Cookie, daddy,' and hands me one. I have to eat it."
The Ravens expected Suggs' presence all along. Head coach John Harbaugh alluded to that fact at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. The Ravens – who logged only 32 sacks as a team last year – even threw support behind Suggs by hiring his collegiate position coach, Ted Monachino, to bring more pressure.
"I think Terrell is really excited to be in Baltimore this offseason," coach Harbaugh said. "We hired Ted Monachino, who worked with him at Arizona State. There is a confidence level there that will help us. We're going to dedicate a lot of our offseason program to the pass rush and techniques. That will be a big emphasis for us, and I'm excited Terrell is going to be a part of it."
Throughout his career, Suggs would typically train at Athletes Performance, Inc., in Phoenix, joined by some of the league's top players, such as Julius Peppers, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Marlin Jackson.
But after a pedestrian 58-tackle, 4.5-sack performance in 2009, Suggs hopes he can offer more. The Ravens have similar ideas, considering Suggs is in the second year of a lucrative six-year contract.
"I was in a different stage," said Suggs. "When I was younger, I never participated in the offseason program because I felt that I could have a great offseason on my own. We had a big group of guys that showed up every day to compete. That made us better.
"Now, I'm a veteran. I'm getting it in with my team. And it's paid off for some people. I know that Dwight Freeney works out with his team for the majority of his offseason. He's played in two Super Bowls and won one of them. Maybe he knows something I don't."
Of course, it didn't help that Suggs dealt with a heel injury for all of training camp and most of the preseason.
"My offseason wasn't the same last year, and you could see the difference," admitted Suggs. "Now, I have to get back to the top.
"But I'm feeling good. I'm healthy. I'm like Wolverine. I heal myself. Let's move forward."
Watching the Ravens' offseason moves from afar has Suggs believing his team is ready to take the next step, as well.
Even though it is earlier than usual for Suggs to be getting back to work, he has grand visions for another breakout year, both personally and team-wide. Why not start now?
"It's all about Lombardi," said Suggs, referring to the Super Bowl trophy. "In this league, your years are numbered, and that window of opportunity gets smaller and smaller. So the time for me, the time for us, is always now. You never know when you're going to have a talented team like the one we're building. Our offense took major leaps last year, after years and years of having a dominant defense. At some point, those things are going to come together, and you have to strike when they do.
"We need to work now to become Ravens, and other teams know what that means when they play us."