Suggs bringing back sizzle to his game

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Terrell Suggs wasn't himself last season, and it goes beyond the Baltimore Ravens linebacker slumping in the second half of the season.

In taking more of a leadership role in the wake of losing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Suggs went from being a fun-loving character to being a subdued, and to be honest, boring shell of his himself. For a film buff like Suggs, it was like he was playing a role that he was totally miscast for.

But, if the first two days of minicamp are any indication, Suggs plans to bring back the sizzle to his game.

When safety Matt Elam got beat by tight end Owen Daniels, Suggs barked out, "You might want to cover that guy." After backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambled downfield, Suggs could be heard saying, "Enough. It's always street ball with him." Suggs even talked trash to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak after Joe Flacco was intercepted.

So, does Suggs plan on having more fun this year?

"We'll see," Suggs said before giving a playful wink. "We'll see."

Suggs was never one to act his age. At 31, he certainly doesn't want to play like it, too.

Many pass-rushers suffer a serious decline at this point in their careers, and Suggs is coming off two tough seasons. He was limited to eight games in 2012 after tearing his Achilles' tendon and he failed to record a sack in seven of his final eight games in 2013.

With Suggs entering his 12th season, there are legitimate concerns whether Suggs can even come close to being the same player he was in 2011, when he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“If you think you’re old, you’re going to train old and then you’re going to perform old," Suggs said. "I’m 31, but I feel like it’s Day 1 for me. I just get to go out there and have fun. I think it’s all in the mindset.”

It's not all talk with Suggs. For the second straight season, Suggs has reported to minicamp in great shape.

Coach John Harbaugh, who often doesn't single out his players, pointed to Suggs when asked about the conditioning level of his veterans.

"You can tell he’s been working really hard," Harbaugh said.

Suggs looked like the best player in the league for the first two months of last season, making 60 tackles and nine sacks in his first eight games. He just couldn't sustain that dominance and finished with 20 tackles and one sack in the last eight games.

Like the criticism he doles out on teammates and coaches, Suggs didn't pull any punches in explaining why he tailed off.

"One of the things was you get a little cold and you gain a little weight," Suggs said. "I probably put on a little too much weight down the stretch there. But that was one of my big focuses going into this year. Definitely, if I keep my weight down, I can have a strong finish."

Suggs needs to reward the Ravens' faith and investment in him. In signing a four-year extension, he received an $11 million signing bonus and is guaranteed $16 million over the next two seasons.

“You’re going to always have something to prove when you’re playing this game," Suggs said. "You never want to hit your cruising altitude; you always want to be ascending with your game. You can always get better. That’s what I’m going to continue to try to do. Like I said, there were some things we identified that we all could have done better last season, and definitely finishing strong is one of them for us as a team and myself.”