Strange, isn’t it. When Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles last week, the worst was assumed, and the worst is the Ravens playing without their top defensive player for an entire season.
Then Suggs told us that he’s optimistic he’ll be back by October. Then we didn’t believe him. Then he said something about it being only a partial tear, and then we kind of started to believe him, but we were still unsure of the medical credentials he obtained during his intensive studies at Ball So Hard University.
Now it seems he was telling us the truth all along, and that truth has been verified by the doctor that performed his surgery yesterday. Sorry, Terrell.
Suggs told the Baltimore Sun that the partial tear means his original timetable of four-to-six months remains in place. The optimistic side of that estimate puts Suggs on the field for Week 1, and there’s only one side to Suggs.
That’s the optimistic side.
“I’m 29 years old,” he told the Sun. “I don’t miss games. I’ll be returning soon.”
Exactly what Suggs the Ravens will get if he returns quickly is unclear, but even 70 percent of a player who has 24 sacks over the past two years will still make him Baltimore’s most imposing pass rushing presence.
But if Suggs doesn’t bathe in the fountain of young daily, then the longer end of his recovery scale has him back sometime in mid November. While some Suggs in 2012 is still infinitely better than no Suggs at all, a lengthier absence would mean that rookie Courtney Upshaw would have to be the primary outside pass rusher until about Week 11. That’s roughly when Suggs would return just prior to a brutal late-season stretch for the Ravens that could determine whether or not they’re still playing football in January.
Starting in Week 11, Baltimore plays the division rival Steelers twice in three weeks, and sandwiched in between those games is a trip to San Diego. Then there’s a daunting finishing stretch with games against the Redskins, Broncos, Giants, and Bengals.
Even after the addition of Upshaw through the draft, this isn’t a young Ravens defense anymore, and there will almost surely be more injuries. Ed Reed managed to stay healthy throughout the regular season last year before being hobbled during the playoffs, but he’s still missed 10 games since 2009. Meanwhile, Ray Lewis turns 37 next week, and he missed four games in 2011.
Between their schedule, their age, and the inconsistencies of Joe Flacco on the other side of the ball, the Ravens’ 2012 season could easily hinge on Suggs’ ability to recover quickly.