Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is entering his 13th season in the NFL. This is the 13th Ravens minicamp he’s attended. But this year, at age 32, he’s planning to take it easier during minicamp than he has in the past. Suggs spoke with ESPN’s Todd Karpovich on Tuesday’s start of camp and said he’s not at his “fighting weight” while using this offseason to rest and heal. Suggs said, “Usually around this time I’m ready to go. I didn’t want to stress about anything coming in. I just kind of wanted to let my body heal, take a little time. I think come July I’ll be ready to go. I’m definitely not out of shape.” Suggs added, “I can participate in practice without getting hurt, without getting tired. But I’m definitely not at my fighting weight. I’m at my walk-around weight.”
Suggs knows that at his age that he’s on the “back nine of his career,” and that while his on-field performance isn’t what it used to be, “I’m going to just be Sizz and hopefully the guys will follow my lead and we’re going to do great things. We have tremendous talent. We have a lot of guys. This team is definitely going to be special.” Suggs, a former Defensive Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year as well as a six-time Pro Bowler, will still be an on-field force for the Ravens this year. He has a a career total of 106.5 sacks and had 12 last year. But he also knows that the quality of the players around him will also be as much of a factor, if not a greater one, than he will be this year.
As for minicamp, Suggs is putting less pressure on himself this year, saying “This is year 13 for me. I can’t really be stressing. I used to always be, ‘I’ve got to be ready by minicamp.’ It used to weigh on me. It used to bother me. I didn’t want to let it bother me. At 13 (seasons), I owe it to myself to kind of just pace yourself. That way, when you come down to the tail end of the season, week 9, week 10, I’ve still got something left in the tank. I’m trying to pace myself and not do too much right now.” Given Suggs’ veteran status and level of experience, it’s doubtful the Ravens would mind him barely participating in training camp, let alone minicamp in June, if it means he’ll be ready for Week 1—and, perhaps more importantly, ready for Week 17 and beyond.
In 2014, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Clifton Geathers ended up in fistfights with nearly every member of the team’s offensive line, pushing harder in practice than the line happened to appreciate. And at the start of the Steelers’ minicamp on Tuesday, Geathers was at it again, with a heated practice turning into a fight between Geathers and center Maurkice Pouncey, reports Dale Grdnic of Behind the Steel Curtain.
Geathers, when asked about the fight, said, “Let’s put it this way, I wasn’t on the bottom.” Pouncey chalked it up to the nature of the battle between offensive and defensive lines, saying, “We always have to stick up for each other, as a team. As an offense, you compete, and as a defense, you compete. And at the end of the day, you have to compete against others. It’s competition. We don’t go out there to patty-cake. Things happen sometimes, and tempers get flared.”
Confrontations and fights of this nature are commonplace during NFL training camps and practices, especially between the defensive and offensive lines, who are just as aggressive toward one another as they are against opposing teams. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said as much when asked about the fight on Tuesday: “It’s not something that you embrace, obviously, but it’s something that goes with the game. It’s an opportunity to teach, more than anything, and that’s the way that I’ll approach it.”
Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive tackle Devon Still has reunited with his team after missing the last three weeks of OTA practices while standing by his daughter, Leah, who experienced a setback with her post-cancer treatment. Though Leah was declared in remission from Stage 4 neuroblastom in March, she has spent the last 43 days in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia dealing with those complications. But now, as ESPN’s Coley Harvey reports, Leah could go home within a week, and Still is ready to get back to football, at least for a three-day minicamp.
Still said, “I’ve been gone for long enough. I have a lot of family and friend support that is there with my daughter now. So it feels good to get away for a couple days and just get back to being here with the team and going out there and practicing.” Last year, Still appeared in 12 games for the Bengals, totaling 19 combined tackles while playing 237 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. The Bengals rallied around Still and Leah last year, organizing a campaign to sell Still’s jersey and donate all proceeds to the Children’s Hospital. He was a free agent following the 2014 season, and the Bengals re-signed him to a one-year, $740,000 contract in March.
Still, who has dropped 18 pounds since last season and has improved his lifestyle, says, “I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my football career, period—college or pro. I’m playing motivated now. My daughter has won the battle against cancer, and I know she wants me to go out and prove myself on the football field. So that’s what I’m working towards.” Though a marginal player for the Bengals’ defensive line last year, his added motivation, better health and the fact that Cincinnati’s defensive front four is a highly rotational group gives him a good chance of sticking on the roster and live out his dream in his daughter’s name.