Suggs dancing as quarterbacks fall

OWINGS MILLS -- Terrell Suggs lacks the grace of Fred Astaire, but the Baltimore Ravens' quirky outside linebacker doesn't plan to stop dancing on quarterbacks' graveyards. <br><br> In his second season, Suggs has emerged as the Ravens' top pass rusher and has made a habit of performing unusual dance routines after slamming quarterbacks to the ground for a team-high five sacks.

Suggs, 22, said he learns his frenetic shimmy-and-shake moves from studying movies, including the straight-to-video street dancing film, 'You Got Served.'

"Everybody keeps getting on me about my dances," Suggs said. "If you watch a lot of movies, you will understand where I get my dances. I don't do the same one. It goes really deep."
Last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has earned the right to showboat.

After improving his conditioning and his knowledge of the Ravens' playbook, Suggs has matured into an every-down linebacker after registering a team-high dozen sacks and six forced fumbles as a pass-rushing specialist last season.

"We think Suggs is one of the better rushers in the league," Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "He's a young player, so he still has a lot to prove. He's taken the job much more seriously. It's not all fun and games.

"You can get your butt kicked quick even as talented as he is, and I think he learned that last year although he had the upper hand on a lot of guys. To be really good, he realizes he has to be consistent."

During the prolonged absence of Pro Bowl outside linebacker Peter Boulware with a knee injury, Suggs has developed into a defender that offensive linemen and quarterbacks fear.
Suggs ranks second in the AFC in sacks behind the New York Jets' John Abraham, who has seven.

Through an increased emphasis on a healthier diet and exercise, Suggs has lowered his body-fat percentage and has his weight down between 255 and 260 pounds. When he regularly sacked boxes of pizza last season, Suggs was a comparatively pudgy 265 to 270 pounds.

"I think I'm in a lot more condition," Suggs said. "I feel a lot better. I feel fresh. Definitely, experience and maturity have helped me."

As a rookie, Suggs relied primarily on raw talent that allowed him to set a NCAA single-season mark with 24 sacks as a junior at Arizona State. Teammates have noticed the difference in Suggs' dedication toward training and acceleration upfield while employing a variety of pass-rushing moves.

"That young kid, he's willing to learn," Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis said. "You find a lot of people who are talented and they leave it at that. But it's another thing to be talented and come in and want to learn everything about not just being a great pass rusher, but being a great outside linebacker as well."

Suggs has been sturdier against the run after faltering noticeably in the Ravens' playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans last January. He ranks seventh on the team with 25 tackles and has been more active in pursuit.

"He's incredibly strong," Nolan said. "He changes the line of scrimmage a lot. He's done a good job. It's a different world between having your hand down and standing up and seeing all this stuff going on."

In Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium, Suggs is likely to draw double-team attention with chip-blocking from a tight end or a running back. The Bills have allowed 20 sacks to rank 31st among NFL teams in sacks allowed per pass play.

Adding to what appears to be a tailor-made matchup for Suggs is the statue-like mobility of Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound Bledsoe gives new meaning to the phrase, pocket passer, and has been sacked 385 times in his 12-year career.

"You don't like playing against a Michael Vick or a Donovan McNabb," Suggs said. "A stationary quarterback, you know where he's going to be and you know how you can get there."

Yet, the Bills managed to shut out Miami defensive end Jason Taylor with no sacks and tackles by chip-blocking him throughout their 20-13 win over the Dolphins.

"A team that gives up a lot of sacks as soon we play them, they don't give up a lot of sacks," Suggs said. "I'll try to get there as best as I can."

During the Ravens' 17-10 win over the Washington Redskins, Suggs sacked quarterback Mark Brunell twice for 13 yards of losses.

Predictably, Suggs' array of dance steps was on display each time he knocked down Brunell. And the player Baltimore drafted 10th overall in the first round last year said it's a sign of more celebrations to come.

"I've got more moves," Suggs said. "I'm 22 years old, and I've got a lot of experience and years watching movies."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and ravensinsider.com

 


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