Shedding more light on Suggs' timetable

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs says he expects to play in 2012, in about four to six months following this week's surgery that repaired his Achilles tendon.

The key isn't when Suggs can return to the field. It's when Suggs can return to his old self, the quarterback-harrassing NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"Some guys will say it takes them a full year to feel like they did pre-injury, especially when it comes to power, speed, explosiveness," said ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell, a certified orthopedic clinical specialist. "Can they still come back and contribute before that? Absolutely, if everything proceeds according to plan and if they are medically cleared."

According to Bell, there is no difference in the recovery time for a partial or full tear. Once surgery takes place, the rehab is essentially the same.

"There are other factors involved in surgery which can slow rehab such as if the tendon was in very poor shape or if there was bone work involved near the attachment," Bell said. "Then there are always post-op possible complications, like infection, which can influence timeline. Not to mention the work the athlete puts in, within the parameters permitted based on the post-op guidelines. It is a lot of hard work to get back from this."

The likely scenario is the Ravens place Suggs on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list at the start of training camp and gauge where he stands after the first six weeks of the season. There's a possibility that Baltimore will try to limit the wear and tear on Suggs by using him as a pass-rush specialist this season.

"So the bottom line is that Suggs could return midseason, if all goes well," Bell said, "but no one can set that timeline in stone right now."