Early Success Does Not Satisfy Suggs

No matter how big an NFL star one will become, it's not unheard of a player to struggle in his first few years as a professional. In that sense, Terrell Suggs is certainly the exception. After capturing the 2003 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award, he was selected to the Pro Bowl in his next season. Devils Digest caught up with T-Sizzle, as he prepared to kick-off the 2006 season on Sunday.

"I'm feeling good, I'm feeling healthy and everybody on the team is healthy," said the 6-3 260 Terrell Suggs. "We have number 9 (QB Steve McNair) in the backfield, so we should be alright. It's amazing how time flew so fast and I'm already in my fourth year. It feels like I was just a rookie yesterday."

Playing in the NFL reinforces the term learning on the job, but the Baltimore Ravens' linebacker feels that even in his relative short time in the league, there's not much that can surprise him anymore. "I've seen it all," claimed Suggs. "Especially when you have a teammate like Ray Lewis – nobody can see the game like he does. I know what to expect every week and that all comes with experience."

In his first two years, the former Lombardi Trophy winner, played linebacker in the less traditional 3-4 defensive alignment. Last season, the Ravens' switched to the more conventional 4-3 scheme, which caused Suggs to rotate between linebacker and his old position from his Sun Devil days – defensive end. "I'm more of a linebacker than an end," he explained, "but I like playing end more because you get to rush the quarterback every snap. It really doesn't matter to me. Heck, I made the Pro Bowl as a linebacker…"

Suggs has averaged just over ten sacks each of his three seasons, and 91 of his career total 110 tackles have taken place the last couple of years. "I'm on a defense where you're always gonna have a shot at big play," he said. "When that window of opportunity opens, you have to take it. That's how everybody in the NFL should play." Interestingly enough, in 2005 he had a record-low eight sacks, but a career best 46 tackles. "We had some guys hurt like Ray, and I was needed more at linebacker," he explained. "That took away from me rushing the passer as often as I did my first two years. Last season, if I had the same chances to rush the quarterback like I did my first two years, you would see more sacks."

The former Sun Devil listed his conditioning drills with Coach Joe Kenn (aka Coach House) at 5 a.m., as one of the biggest memories he has from his days in the maroon and gold, and admits that "It was the hardest thing in the world." One glaring difference between college football and the NFL causes him to yearn for those ASU days. "The thing about college is that there's not a money issue, like the NFL," stated Suggs. "You play for the love of the game, and at the end of the day with your teammates; no one is making more or less money than you."

In the past, Suggs had mentioned numerous times the tremendous impact that his Hamilton High School coach, John Wrenn, had on his career. This season marks Wrenn's first year on the ASU staff, so we asked T-Sizzle if he was maybe a little disappointed that he's not back in Tempe with his old skipper. "I think our relationship would be strained, "he quipped. "He wouldn't be my position coach and I would be just one more D-Lineman tackling his running backs…I'm very happy that he's coaching at ASU and I know that the running backs will do great under him."

Suggs certainly has a Sun Devil flavor in the Ravens' locker room with All-Pro tight end Todd Heap, although they don't seem to run in the same circles. "He's an old married man with two kids," said Suggs. "He's 27 and I'm 23. He's way ahead of me. I am real close with Adam Archuleta. We work out together in the off-season." On the other hand, his relationship with Raven teammates and former Arizona Wildcats Chris McAllister and Edwin Mulitalo may be a tad different. "We go at back and forth every year and last year it felt good to beat them and get bragging rights in the locker room," said Suggs.

You would be hard pressed to find a Ravens player or fan, who isn't elated to have Steve McNair as the squad's newly appointed Quarterback. To say he was the missing piece for greatness, would be an understatement. "The team definitely loves having him here," remarked Suggs. "This is what we've been missing since the franchise got here to Baltimore in 1996. Our offense will definitely be better and we're all ready to go."

The aforementioned success he enjoyed thus far is certainly a point of pride for Suggs. As remarkable as his feats in the NFL have been, he views them in a very pragmatic manner. "I'm not surprised at all with what I have accomplished," he commented. "If you're gonna come into this league as a rookie, you have to aim high. I didn't want to sell myself short or have people expect less from me my first two years. That's what I want for myself – keep on achieving great things, and the next great thing is getting that Super Bowl ring."

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