The sound of a familiar laugh could be heard through the halls of Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills early Monday morning – one that hadn't echoed around the building for months.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs was back after a longtime hiatus, finally signing his franchise tag tender and ending a 27-day holdout that lasted all of training camp.
And, even though his teammates were happy to welcome Suggs into the fold, they won't let him forget all the sweat equity and hard work he missed at McDaniel College.
Upon catching word of Suggs' impending return, many Ravens began plotting a reunion dinner, with the two-time Pro Bowler as the primary benefactor.
"I've got to take them out on Thursday," Suggs said after participating in Monday's practice. "They took all the bullets for me and did the two-a-days; I really appreciate them. They gave me some grief, but they always give me some grief. I'm kind of like that little brother.
"I'm here now, and I'm ready to get out there and just win some games."
Suggs, 25, will be eased back into the lineup, as the first-stringer is expected to play in approximately one quarter this weekend against the St. Louis Rams.
Head coach John Harbaugh is also optimistic that Suggs will be ready for the Ravens' regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 7, even if he still has a long way to go in his football conditioning.
"It felt good to have [No. 55] out there today," said the smiling coach. "It looks like he's in really good shape. It's not football practice, what he's been doing. You could tell – the change of direction and the burst – but he was competing and fighting. He'll probably be a little bit sore tomorrow. But he was in good shape."
Suggs spent the majority of his summer in his home-state of Arizona, where many of his peers trained during the offseason. But when training camps around the league began, he found himself in a surreal state of solitary confinement.
"You know I live in Arizona, so we were all hanging out, and then everybody was just gone," Suggs admitted. "I was one of the few only ones that wasn't in camp so it felt weird."
Still, Suggs decided to stay away from Baltimore when the Ravens kept him off the free agent market with the franchise tag as a linebacker. The Ravens continue to hold Suggs in their long-term plans, considering his production at such a young age. In only five professional seasons, Suggs is already third in club history with 45 quarterback sacks, only six behind Michael McCrary in second place.
After filing a grievance with the NFL that suggested he played more snaps at defensive end than linebacker in 2007, Suggs and the Ravens were able to come to an agreement, creating a hybrid position that made up the disparity in salaries between the two positions.
It was the first time Suggs, the 10th-overall pick in the 2003 draft, had dealt with contract negotiations as a veteran.
"It was just the business side of it," he stated. "I really didn't want to do it because I love football. I love being out here running around. I was just out here and it was like we just picked up right where we left off with the guys. [Not reporting to camp was a] July 21 decision, and it was just like, 'Nah, I ain't going to go yet.' It really wasn't a big deal.
"I look at it as it gave me an extended period of time to really prepare myself for the season. It's really unfortunate that I didn't get to get in here on time and go to war with my boys, but that time is gone now, and I'm ready to play some football."
His teammates were all eager to see the known prankster back in the locker room.
"Sizzle is a great teammate," said cornerback Samari Rolle. "He's always upbeat and a great player, so he brings both to this locker room: a leader and a player."
The fact that he's taking a crew that makes up the Ravens' front seven – including reserves – out to a complimentary dinner doesn't hurt, either.
"I think they're going to aim for the fences on this one," he estimated with a laugh. "It's going to be fun. We get to catch up on everything that we missed and our plans for the future.
"I've got the front seven, but I've got the depth. I've got to get two party buses."
According to a few of his teammates, "Sizzle" should prepare for some heavy hitters, especially the 300-pounders on the defensive line.
"We get to treat him like a rookie, so that's going to be great," said Haloti Ngata. "I'll definitely get a to-go box to feed my wife and dogs."
"Everyone knows I like the finer things in life," joked Justin Bannan. "I think an expensive bottle of wine is in order."
For both Suggs and the Ravens, Thursday's scheduled meal will be a small price to pay to get one of the NFL's premier pass rushers back on the field.