Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is interviewed after minicamp… (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports,…)
The new T-Sizzle is pretty much the same as the old T-Sizzle.
Nearly five weeks ago, at the mandatory minicamp, there were sightings of the new guy. He didn't smile and laugh. He didn't crack any jokes or take any shots at his favorite team and player: the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
Terrell Suggs had his game face on in mid-June.
He has a different one on now, the same one we've seen since the Ravens made him the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft.
"What [the media] saw was at that moment," Suggs said Monday afternoon. "They saw a new body and assumed there was a new personality. But nothing is going to change. I'm always going to have fun and be relaxed out there. I'm going to be Sizzle."
The Ravens will welcome that.
We all thought we might see a new Suggs this season after linebacker Ray Lewis retired and safety Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans. We assumed he was going to be more solemn and serious as he replaced them as team leaders.
In his own way, he has, but Suggs has to be Suggs. He can't help himself. He's like former Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary, an overgrown kid who never got over his affection for toys. Suggs just can't keep still or quiet for long.
In the locker room, he is either pulling a prank or loud with his chatter, music or videos. On the practice field, he often dances and seems to take personal pride in yelling obscenities at the offense or kickers before field-goal attempts.
He has the persona of other good pass rushers, from the wackiness of the late Deacon Jones to the trash talking of Lawrence Taylor.
But there is a new physical side of Suggs that we'll all get to see in a few days. He was already in great shape at last month's minicamp, but now he appears even lighter, stronger and faster.
The Ravens' all-time sack leader is on a mission.
"I know that we all bought in last year, that we got on a roll, had a good run and we won a championship," said Suggs, a five-time Pro Bowl pick and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. "But I also know that I missed [eight] games last year, and this season I have come back lighter because I just want to be the best player I can be."
Suggs won't say he has something to prove, but he does. After 10 years in the NFL, there were some critics who said his body was starting to break down after last season. There was ample evidence, as Suggs suffered an Achilles injury in the offseason, then tore his right biceps.
He was still a team leader in spirit, but he never got in good shape and played at only about 80 percent. He had only 22 tackles and only two sacks. But three weeks after the Super Bowl in early February.
Now he is ready to go. The weight loss isn't as drastic as Lewis' last offseason . Suggs is still thick in all the right areas, just leaner.
"I've just been watching, listening and reading what people have been saying about us, and I don't feel people respect us for what we accomplished last season and the group we have assembled this year," Suggs said. "I know critics are supposed to have their opinions, but I'm getting pumped to prove them wrong."
Suggs is aware of the challenge the Ravens face. Even though the defense was average last season, six starters are gone. He does like his new teammates, however, especially the beef the Ravens added on the defensive line with Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Brandon Williams. They also signed outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, one of the best pass rushers in the league, to start opposite Suggs.
"I love this new group," Suggs said. "There is more opportunity to do amazing things. We've changed personnel, but we haven't changed the personality. There is a certain standard here in this city, and we have to honor that. It's about us getting back to business again. Sure, we've lost some guys who were here from Day 1, but we have some other guys like myself, Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb who have been here from Day 1 and are grown up."
That's why Suggs isn't sweating this "defensive leader" tag. His goals are the same as before, identical to coach John Harbaugh's objective.
"This is going to be a good year, not for myself, but for this team and for this city," Suggs said. "We can't be concerned about what happened last year because it's time to start playing football again. In [February], there will be another Super Bowl played, and our purpose is to get there.
"This isn't all on one person, but the entire team. It is one team with one purpose, and it is going to take everybody to lead, not just one person, not just me."