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Since news broke that reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs injured his Achilles tendon and has the potential to miss the entire 2012 season, fans have had questions about what is to come for Suggs and the Ravens.
Below are just some of the most frequently asked inquiries, and some answers compiled from throughout the web.
How serious is Suggs’ injury?
It is unclear at this point, which is why the Ravens organization is waiting to comment on the situation. Suggs told The Baltimore Sun that he has already seen two doctors. One told him it was a partial tear and the other said it was a full tear. The final diagnosis will be a major factor in how quickly Suggs can return to NFL action. We should know more Tuesday, the day Suggs will reportedly meet with noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina to have surgery and should find out the severity of the tear. “If the Terrell Suggs injury is as bad as feared, then it’s the worst injury the Ravens have suffered since Jamal Lewis the year after SB 35,” wrote WBAL’s Gerry Sandusky.
Is Suggs’ predicted return date realistic?
Again, that depends on the extent of the injury and Suggs’ ability to recover quickly. However, Suggs has told multiple media outlets that they shouldn’t count him out for the 2012 season. Instead he predicts a return in October, or November by the latest. “Team officials are hopeful Suggs could return within six months, which would appear to be slightly optimistic,” wrote The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.
While the general length of time to full activity following a surgery like the one Suggs will have is four to six months, the average return to NFL action is 11 months, according to an American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in 2006, per ESPN.
“In terms of full, aggressive play, it could be anywhere between three months and six months, depending on what was done,” Dr. Lew Schon, the chief of foot and ankle surgery at Union Memorial Hospital, told The Sun. “For someone like this [a high-level athlete], though, it’s probably going to be more like six months.”
Why does it matter if he was playing basketball or running a conditioning test when he suffered the injury?
“It doesn’t matter whether Suggs was playing basketball or running or jogging or lifting weights. Injuries sustained while a player works out on his own are ‘non-football injuries,’” wrote Mike Florio. “That said, the manner in which the injury was suffered could cause a team to decide to not pay a player, especially if the player’s team has made it known generally among the players that, if they get hurt playing basketball, they’re on their own. … It would be a major surprise if the Ravens try to stiff Suggs.”
Can the Ravens defense overcome his absence?
This is completely subjective, but if history is any indicator, the Ravens defense has shown it is capable of overcoming. ESPN’s Jamison Hensley argues that the defense can “absorb” the loss. “It’s very easy to tear up the playoff tickets right now or want to hand over the AFC North title to the Steelers. But losing Suggs doesn’t mean the Ravens should lose hope on the season,” wrote Hensley. “The Ravens, though, can overcome Suggs’ absence. Why? Because they’ve done this before.”
Safety Ed Reed spent the first six weeks on the PUP list after offseason hip surgery in 2010, but Baltimore still went 4-2 without him. Ray Lewis was sidelined for four games last season with a toe injury, and the Ravens went 4-0. “Baltimore is a stronger and more fearsome defense with Suggs chasing down quarterbacks. But the Ravens defense won’t flinch without him,” Hensley concluded.
How can Dean Pees make up for the loss of Suggs in his defensive schemes?
Hensley believes Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees may want to consider blitzing more with his top pass rusher down, even though Baltimore was ranked ninth in the number of times they blitzed last season. On non-blitzing plays (sending four or fewer players), Suggs was the defense’s best pass rusher, recording 12 of his 14 sacks in that defensive formation.“What these numbers say is Suggs generated his own pass rush,” wrote Hensley. “The Ravens didn’t have to blitz, putting more pressure on their secondary, for Suggs to hit the quarterback. Now, without Suggs, Baltimore should think about sending five defenders more. Instead of being No. 9 in blitzes like last season, the Ravens might have to rank in the top five to produce the same amount of pressure.”
Who is the next man up?
This will be the long-debated question until Week 1 of the season, and perhaps even beyond. While Paul Kruger and the Ravens’ first-overall pick from last weekend, Courtney Upshaw, are the two favorites to play Suggs’ position, both will be required to step up in a major way. Other candidates include Sergio Kindle, Pernell McPhee and Michael McAdoo. In reality,it will take a full team effort to make up for losing arguably the best player the Ravens have on the roster.
“You can’t replace Suggs,” NFL Network’s Charley Casserly said. “What you have to do as a football team is become a better football team in another area. To me, I got to go to the offensive side of the ball. Joe Flacco is a young quarterback – he needs to take it up another step and he can. The offense can get better, they have so many young players on that side of the ball. They should be better. … That’s what has to take off for Suggs – a better offense, a more explosive offense, more time on the field, make the other team play from behind, score more points.”
Would the Ravens consider bringing in a free agent or making a trade?
There is some speculation that the Ravens could explore a trade for New York Giants’ Osi Umenyiora or the Indianapolis Colts’ Dwight Freeney, but those ideas haven’t picked up much steam. “[The Ravens] never like moving draft picks and they have less than $2 million in salary cap space,” Zrebiec wrote. “The free agent market is also thin on pass rushers though Matt Roth (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Andre Carter (New England Patriots) would bring some pass-rushing skills. However, any of the replacements will obviously represent a serious downgrade over Suggs, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks (82 1/2), sack yardage (610) and forced fumbles (29), and is second in fumble recoveries (11) and third in tackles (660).”
pkruger99: Everyone who hates the dentist please give me a shout out cause I’m hatin life right now with 3 route canals… [Twitter]
NestorAparicio: Can a 30-year old like Terrell Suggs come back from an Achilles injury and still rely on speed as the key ingredient in his game? [Twitter]
Lucky, lucky … “A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Ravens considers themselves lucky, given that the Ravens selected Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw with its first pick in the 2012 draft, after trading down from the 29th pick in round one,” wrote Florio. ”The Ravens could have gone in many different directions; it was pure fortuity that they opted to pick someone who plays a position of sudden and clear need. Actually, the Ravens may have been better off to have had the injury happen after the draft. The Ravens, we’re told, would have been far less likely to trade down if Suggs had been injured before the draft.” [ProFootballTalk.com]