Suggs charged with felony aggravated assault

OWINGS MILLS - Baltimore Ravens rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is facing a charge of felony aggravated assault stemming from a March fight after a basketball tournament in downtown Phoenix.

Suggs was released from custody.

Arizona law enforcement officials have accused Suggs, 21, of assaulting a man with a reinforced rod during a melee weeks before the Ravens selected him with the 10th overall pick of the first round, according to an Associated Press report.

Ravens vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne said Suggs informed coach Brian Billick of his legal situation, traveled to Arizona to meet with authorities and is expected back for today's practice. A warrant was being considered for Suggs' arrest before he opted to fly back to Phoenix to deal with the issue.

"He's handling the situation and we expect him back," Byrne said of Suggs, who has been assigned a Jan. 20 court date for a preliminary hearing along with relative Donald Suggs.

Suggs didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.

"Things like this happen as I well know," defensive line coach Rex Ryan said. "It's an unfortunate thing, but obviously he's going to deal with this and it's business as usual when he gets back out here."

The alleged incident happened in a parking lot at a Phoenix municipal park on March 29.

Donald Suggs, 17, has been charged by prosecutors with aggravated assault, including an allegation that he struck a man with a baseball bat during the fight.

When the incident was being investigated before the draft, Gary Wichard, Suggs' agent, painted a picture of Suggs attempting to quell the fight. "Nobody mentioned that a guy attacked him from behind," Wichard told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Or that this happened at 1 p.m. in the afternoon in broad daylight when he was just trying to pick up his cousin from a 3-on-3 basketball tournament."

Wichard told the newspaper that Suggs arrived at the park to find his cousin's team involved in an argument with another team that included a man with a broken nose suffered during the basketball game.

With Suggs attempting to play "peacemaker," he was struck from behind with a steel rod, according to Wichard.

"He got cold-cocked from behind, that's the scary thing," Wichard told the Sun-Times. "He was in no way the aggressor. All he did was disarm the guy after he was hit twice with a bar."

Suggs is the top pass rusher on the AFC North leaders with 10 sacks and has been elevated to the starting lineup for Sunday's contest against the Oakland Raiders because Adalius Thomas is out for the season with a broken elbow.

Thomas underwent successful surgery on Tuesday, according to trainer Bill Tessendorf. An announcement regarding whether Thomas will immediately be placed on injured reserve is expected today.

"Everything has been repaired and they'll make a personnel announcement Wednesday," Tessendorf said.

Suggs set an NCAA single-season mark with 24 sacks last season at Arizona State.

Along with the rest of the NFL, the Ravens were aware of the police investigation into the incident before they drafted Suggs and weren't unduly concerned.

"This is something that people had already known about," Ryan said. "Terrell's a terrific young man and I'm sure it will all work out in the end."

NOTES: A group of at-risk middle-school students from Carroll County visited the Ravens' training complex Tuesday and met nose guard Maake Kemoeatu. … Tight end Todd Heap joined Baltimore-area military families connecting with troops stationed overseas via X-box technology. … Quarterback Kyle Boller and receiver Ron Johnson led a toy drive at Carrolltown Center in Eldersburg to benefit the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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