Terrell Suggs is last leader left standing on Ravens 'D'

March 21, 2013|By Kevin Cowherd | The Baltimore Sun

Can’t wait for the Ravens’ first defensive team meeting in the upcoming minicamps, when coordinator Dean Pees hands out those little plastic name tags that say: “Hi, my name is ­­­­­­­­­_ _ _ _"  and each player has to stand and tell the others a little bit about himself.

No Ray Lewis, no Ed Reed, no Bernard Pollard, no Dannell Ellerbe, no Cary Williams, no Paul Kruger – this is getting serious.

This isn’t the Ravens doing a little nip-and-tuck on the defense. This is a complete makeover. Ravens fans can only hope they haven’t killed the patient in the process.

And with the shocking decimation of a once-proud unit that gave the Ravens their swagger and their identity, the logical question is: who leads the defense now?

Terrell Suggs, get ready for your season-long close-up.

Suggs, the veteran outside linebacker who will be entering his 11thseason, is the only one with the credibility to take over the leadership role once owned by Ray Lewis and, to a lesser degree, by Ed Reed.

Suggs is mouthy, funny, profane, energetic, upbeat, a true warrior and, when healthy, one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. He sure wasn’t healthy last year, missing six games with an Achilles tear and two games with a biceps tear.

But with an offseason to rehab both injuries, he should come back strong. And the Ravens desperately need Suggs at full strength now, both for his big-play abilities and his ability to motivate his teammates.

Haloti Ngata, the four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, is too quiet to be anything other than a leader by example. And coming off his second subpar season in a row, he needs to focus on upgrading his own game more than anything else.

Ditto with veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb, another quiet guy who’s now had two serious knee injuries and needs to re-establish himself amid questions about how fast and effective he’ll be next season.

No, the defense now belongs to the irrepressible Suggs, who will miss his mentor, Lewis, and his pal, Reed, mightily.

And when he looks around the room the first time the defense meets and sees all the unfamiliar faces, he may well wonder what he’s gotten himself into in assuming the leadership role.

But he’s the only one who can fill it right now.

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