OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — There’s more to Terrell Suggs’ game than simply overpowering an offensive lineman and throwing the quarterback to the ground.
Suggs is the Baltimore Ravens’ career leader with 91 1/2 sacks and ranks fourth in the NFL this season with seven (in only five games). With another one Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, the man known to his teammates as “Sizzle” will set a franchise record with at least one sack in six straight games.
Versatility, however, is why Suggs is among the most feared linebackers in the game. He’s tough against the run, tackles hard enough to jar the ball loose and is adept at dropping into pass coverage.
“He’s one of the premier guys in the league at his position, and he proves it every year,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. “He’s a guy you’ve got to account for in the run game, you’ve got to account for in the passing game. You’ve got to make sure you don’t let him get off, but that’s obviously easier said than done. He’s had a great start to the season.”
Two weeks ago, Suggs had a career-high 17 tackles against Buffalo. In last Sunday’s 26-23 win at Miami, Suggs registered five tackles and helped limit the Dolphins to 22 yards rushing.
“He’s a beast in the run game,” Ravens lineman Marcus Spears said. “I told him last week, `Man, you play the run like you’re 300 pounds.’
With four tackles against the Packers (2-2), Suggs — now in his 11th season — will become the second-leading tackler in Ravens history with 722. Only Ray Lewis has more.
“I don’t want to just be known as a pass rusher. I want to be known as a defender that can do more than just one thing,” Suggs said. “I definitely take pride in that. I don’t want to just have a lot of sacks. I like to fill up the stat sheet.”
Suggs, who turns 31 on Friday, is a five-time Pro Bowl star who has spent his entire career in Baltimore. He is known most for his sack-happy ways, but he’s also picked off seven passes and owns the franchise record for forced fumbles (29).
“A lot of people just see the sacks and don’t see the rest of it,” Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones said. “He’s a playmaker all over the field, and one of the best to ever do it.”
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said, “We could drop him more if we wanted to, but we don’t want to. Still, he is a complete outside backer and I think absolutely, he can do it all. He’s got all the necessary skills and he’s playing at a very high level.”
Suggs missed the first six games of the 2012 season while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and finished with only two sacks. He’s more than tripled that total already this season and is on pace to break Peter Boulware’s single-season team record of 15.
Suggs acknowledged Wednesday that there was a point last year when he wondered if he would ever regain the burst that put the fear in opposing quarterbacks’ hearts.
“Definitely. But you’ve got to stay the course and continue to work at it,” he said.
Now Suggs is arguably as good as he’s ever been.
“Yes, without a doubt,” Pees said. “He looks like he’s fully recovered and playing at a high level and really just doing a great job both on and off the field.”
Not only does Suggs rank second on the team in tackles, he’s also taken on a leadership role in the locker room and on the field.
“He’s an extraordinary pro,” said Spears, who played eight years in Dallas before joining Baltimore (3-2) this season. “Being close to him, you realize how smart he is. That’s something you wouldn’t know playing against him. It’s a smart football player, and it’s not a coincidence that he’s been playing well for a long time, because his brain matches up with his body. He’s a lethal guy out there.”
Mostly to quarterbacks, but there aren’t too many running backs who relish a collision with the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Suggs.
“He’s a complete player. He always has been,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the great thing about Terrell Suggs. He’s not just a one-dimensional guy, in terms of pass rush. He’s a great pass rusher but he’s all the other things, too. That’s what makes him a premier player.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)