Terrell Suggs' torn Achilles continues to heal, and the Ravens outside linebacker hopes to return during the 2012 season. But Suggs' mind and mouth are already in midseason form.
Nearly one month after having surgery to repair a partially torn right Achilles, Suggs is already talking about winning Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season, and helping the Ravens host the AFC championship game in Baltimore.
If you thought Suggs might be a little depressed from an injury that some say could force him out for the entire 2012 season, think again. The player known as "T-Sizzle" was sizzling while talking about everything from his comeback to Ray Rice's new contract to life with new defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
The comeback, according to Suggs, is going well. His foot has already been placed in a boot.
"I'm going to shock a lot of people when I'm coming out of that tunnel," Suggs, the Ravens' Pro Bowl hybrid outside linebacker, said Sunday night. "I'm in a boot already working on flexibility, getting back that range of motion. Next week, we're going to start a little walking and working side to side.
"I won't say I'm ahead of schedule, but I'm a lot better than I, the doctors and rehab therapist thought. I kept telling people it wasn't as bad as some people made it out to be."
Asked if he was still scheduled to make it back before his predicted time frame at the end of November, Suggs didn't back off.
"Late November, that will be the latest I return," said Suggs, who might opt for some healing time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. "Going into the chamber is an option, it certainly can't hurt. I can take an iPad and iPod in there and spend a few hours a day. It can only help the healing process."
Suggs, about to enter his 10th year in the NFL, said the Achilles injury might have been the result of him training too early in the offseason. He claimed he suffered the injury while running the Ravens' conditioning shuttle run, but initial reports had Suggs suffering the injury while playing basketball.
There were some recent reports stating that the Ravens were looking into Suggs' contract to find out if there were stipulations about him not being paid if he suffered an injury playing basketball or any other sport besides football.
"The Ravens have never said anything to me about that and I hope they don't," Suggs said. "That's just petty gossip."
Last season, Suggs finished with 70 tackles and a career-high 14 sacks. He also forced seven fumbles and had two interceptions.
Suggs said he has been driven since 2009, when he struggled with his weight and had just 4.5 sacks.
He vowed afterward to never let that happen again.
"As I look back over this injury situation, it was just me kind of stressing, pushing too hard because I never want another season like 2009," Suggs said. "I wanted a repeat, but only as the Player of the Year. And I want to hold that Lombardi Trophy.
"I wanted to make sure that championship game was going to be played in Baltimore, so I didn't take any time off. After the last game, I left Baltimore and came to Phoenix and started training again. I think the injury is a result of me pushing too hard. I'm not 23 anymore. I'm not 30 either, but there are times you have to back off."
Suggs was one of 19 players who didn't participate in an offseason training activity last week. Some of the team's critics have pointed out that the OTAs of the Ravens' top competitors in the AFC North — Cincinnati and Pittsburgh — were well attended.
Suggs isn't bothered by the Ravens no-shows.
"It's no big deal, not at all," Suggs said. "One of those guys [Ray Rice] is involved in contract negotiations, and that situation sucks, to tell you the truth. I've been there. Sometimes fans don't understand, but it's business and as players we have to treat it that way, the same as the owners and front office. Two other players that didn't show up were Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two Hall of Famers, who have proven they already know how to train and prepare."
"A lot of guys don't need to be at the facility. It's always been best for me to get away from the building, to get away from the eye that is always watching you. But there are some guys who need to be around the building, some guys who need the motivation and can't handle themselves as pros."
Right now, Suggs can't wait to return. He has missed only three games in his career and is the franchise's sack leader with 82.5. Once he is on the field, he doesn't think he'll be behind in learning the defense under Dean Pees, the Ravens' first-year defensive coordinator and former linebackers coach.
"Whenever we got our scouting report, he would always give us some kind of edge or fact to help us approach a team differently," Suggs said of Pees, formerly of the New England Patriots. "Whoever our coordinator has been, they always brought different things to the table, but nothing that changed us dramatically. One of the things Pees has that the other coordinators didn't have is the ring. He has been to the big game five times and has three rings."