BEREA: Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh talks about his favorite outside linebacker as if he’s more robot than human.
After partially tearing his right Achilles tendon during the offseason in April, the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs vowed he’d be back on the field during the 2012 season.
Recovery time for an Achilles tear varies on the severity of the tear. Even with a partial tear, returning to play NFL football in six months is remarkable. But that is what Suggs did. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year returned last week and had four tackles, a sack and pass defensed in a 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans.
“What it says about him is, first of all, he’s different than most of us,” Harbaugh said during a league conference call. “All of us on this conversation aren’t healing from that injury like he did. It always amazes me how some of these genetically superior and gifted guys manage these injuries.”
Harbaugh said Suggs’ quick return also speaks to his work ethic.
“The rehab and the pain he had to endure during recovery speaks shows his mental toughness,” Harbaugh said. “I’m real proud of him. He did something that’s really unprecedented.
“It’s pretty crazy because he talked about coming back. I believed him, but at the same time, there’s always a little bit of me, or probably all of us, that said, ‘OK. He’s talking himself into coming back. But how quickly is he really going to be able to?’ The fact that he was able to get back out there and play as many snaps and play as well as he did is pretty impressive.”
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Suggs, who bolsters a Ravens defense that’s without injured linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season, doesn’t get what all the fuss is about.
“It wasn’t a matter of if I was coming back; I think it was just a matter of when,” said Suggs, a 10th-year pro. “Everybody in the building knew I could do it. We have a lot of unfinished business, a lot of work undone, and I want to be a part of that. So, getting back was the No. 1 priority from the jump.”
Not only is Suggs ready to face the Browns after missing the first game Sept. 27, he’s had the luxury of a bye week since his return to rest and continue to strengthen his Achilles.
“It definitely helped that I didn’t have to play two back-to-back games, and we got to see how the tendon feels after a game,” Suggs said. “And it felt pretty good. So, I got to nurse it the whole week.”
Suggs’ return stunned a lot of players around the league.
“Most people say it’s a 10-month, one-year injury to come back from a torn Achilles tendon,” Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said. “To see him out there that quick was really a surprise and a testament to his dedication and his rehab. When you watch him play, it’s like he didn’t miss any games at all. I was impressed with how quickly he was back in there looking like the old Terrell Suggs.”
Suggs’ good news isn’t such good news for the Browns.
“He gives them so many more weapons, so many more things they can do with their defense,” Thomas said. “When he’s in there, he really sets the edge well on the run game. He can beat up a tight end, and he allows them to roll coverage. He gives them a little bit of a pass rush.
“They don’t have to cover their guys in the secondary quite as long. He allows them to bring a safety down away from him because of how well he defends in the run game. So, really, he gives them the opportunity to open up the playbook a little bit more on the defense and take some risks, because he kind of is a little bit of an eraser over there on his side.”
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is a rookie preparing for his first game against the Ravens with Suggs, but he’s well aware of what he’s in for.
“You have to know where he is at all times,” Weeden said. “He can do so many things. He drops a little bit, but he’s paid to rush the passer. He’s just paid to get after the quarterback and he’s a freak. He’s a great player, been a great player for a long time.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.