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PRESTON: Ravens are stuck with Suggs

Baltimore Sun (TNS)
  • Terrell Suggs faces charges of driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident.
  • The Baltimore Ravens' outside linebacker has played 13 years in the NFL.

These are tense times for the Ravens when it comes to Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

The loss of outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to a torn biceps injury is one of many issues facing the Baltimore Ravens, who have lost three straight games.

We're not just talking about his arrest on charges of driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident Friday in Arizona. That's just the latest in a multitude of off-the-field problems that have followed Suggs throughout his 13-year NFL career.

Now that's the area of concern. No one can predict what will happen with Suggs during the next several months before training camp opens to start the 2016 season.

Will he attempt to drive again? Will he attend any of the mini-camps? Will he show up to training camp in shape or 20 pounds overweight?

No one knows except Suggs. Here's the really bad news: The Ravens are virtually stuck with him because of salary cap constraints and lack of big-play performers on defense.

The Ravens had to be embarrassed Friday by Suggs' arrest. It may not be a big deal driving with a suspended license, but it is when you're 33 and have been in trouble before.

It is when less than two years ago millions of viewers were watching a video of Ravens running back Ray Rice punch out his then-fiancee in an elevator. Now, another star player is caught on a video being handcuffed and carted off to jail.

It's one thing if this happens to some player named Joe Palooka, and another when it is Terrell Suggs. He is a six-time Pro Bowl player and former NFL Player and Rookie of the Year.

He is the Ravens team leader.

PRESTON: Ravens will miss Suggs' leadership more than his playing abilities

Owner Steve Bisciotti couldn't have been happy when he heard the news. Head coach John Harbaugh had to be angry. Under different circumstances, an old-school coach like Harbaugh would have cut a player with lesser talent who has been as much of a pain as Suggs through the years.

But stardom gives a player like Suggs leeway. Even with the recent extension given to quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens are still tight against the salary cap. Suggs will count $7.5 million against the cap in 2016 and almost $7 million next season.

Those are good reasons why he has to stay. Another is that he is the last of the alpha males on defense.

We saw what this pass rush was without Suggs last year after he tore an Achilles heel in the season opener against Denver. Besides Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens have no other consistent pass rusher except Suggs.

With him, the pass rush has to get better, right?

That's another gray area for the Ravens. After he suffered the tear, the second Achilles rupture in four years, he didn't communicate with the team for months even though he often visited Baltimore.

When it comes to off-season conditioning, Suggs has been an enigma. There are times like last year when he was overweight and had to work himself into playing shape during training camp.

There have been other times, especially following an injury or a poor season, when he has reported extremely fit and ready to go.

Which Suggs will show up in 2016? No one really knows.

Suggs has been a great player throughout most of his career, which is why he is the team's all-time sacks leader. He is that rare combination for a pass-rushing outside linebacker, one who has speed but also incredible power and strength.

But during his run with the Ravens, he has been undisciplined for the most part on and off the field. The only coach who seemed to be able to reach him was former Ravens linebackers coach Ted Monachino, who became Indianapolis defensive coordinator in January. Monachino also coached Suggs at Arizona State.

The Ravens could sure use him now. If the Ravens were thinking about taking an offensive player with the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft, they might want to reconsider and take a pass rusher after the incident Friday.

According to the Ravens, Suggs communicated with the team about his arrest and that's a positive step for him.

But in between now and training camp, Suggs will be out in Phoenix and the communication will be limited. It will be Suggs unplugged and the Ravens will be concerned.

They have no clue what they will get when he reports to training camp. They might just be happy he shows up.