Suggs in midst of controversy

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs managed to create a minor quarterback controversy by twice endorsing backup Troy Smith over rookie starter Joe Flacco, and triggered an NFL investigation by saying the Ravens had placed a bounty on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall.

"Right now, I think he's all right," Suggs said of Flacco during a recent interview on a nationally syndicated radio show called 2 Live Stews based in Atlanta. "But like I said, in the end, Troy should be the starter. He's the better man for the job."

Drafted in the first round out of Delaware, Flacco has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,076 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions to rank 29th among NFL quarterbacks with a 68.8 passer rating. He threw three interceptions in a 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, but rebounded for a season-high 120.2 rating with one touchdown pass and no turnovers on 17 of 23 accuracy in a 27-13 victory last week over the Miami Dolphins.

"He started out hot," Suggs said. "We played two teams who were in the bottom of the league in defense [Cleveland and Cincinnati]. So, everybody was going all crazy about him."

However, Suggs denied Wednesday that he ever said that Smith should be the starter even though there is a clear audio recording of his remarks.

"That's not what I said," Suggs said. "When he asked me, I said there should be multiple packages. At least that's what I thought he was asking. I think both should get a chance to play. That's all I was trying to say."

Smith was on the cusp of claiming the starting job during the preseason, but suffered a severe tonsil infection that sidelined him for several weeks. He was installed as the No. 2 quarterback behind Flacco for the first time against Miami.

"He's good, he's won three games and lost three games, it's not like we're 0-6," Suggs said of Flacco. "They both have different things one does better than the other. I think it would be better if we had both of them playing. Then again, I ain't no damn offensive coordinator. So, I don't know."

Meanwhile, Suggs is now the subject of an NFL inquiry after saying the Ravens had a bounty on the two Steelers' skill players.

"We definitely like to send messages to rookie running backs," Suggs said of Mendenhall, who is out for the season with a broken shoulder after a clean tackle by Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis during the Steelers' 23-20 overtime win earlier this season. "We did a good job of sending a message. Hines Ward is definitely a dirty player, a cheap-shot artist. We got something in store for him."

The league office traditionally frowns upon players making threats.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told Pittsburgh reporters today: "We certainly are looking into it. We will look into it aggressively."

Suggs was adamant that the Ravens aren't trying to intentionally injure Ward, who wasn't fined when he broke Cincinnati Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers' jaw with a hard-hitting block that ended his season.

Ward was fined $5,000 for a hit on Ravens cornerback Corey Ivy on Sept. 29 at Heinz Field. In Suggs' opinion, Ward delivered cheap shots on linebacker Jarret Johnson, safety Ed Reed and linebacker Bart Scott during that game.

Ward has a reputation as one of the toughest, most physical wide receivers in the league, but also is known for delivering borderline hits that have injured opponents. Scott threatened to kill Ward after being blasted by him last season on a crushing sideline block.

"There is no bounty on Hines Ward," Suggs said. "We're watching out for him. I don't want my jaw broke. I don't want to be out for the season.

"There is no bounty on the man. We are just alert. If there's a guy loose pulling drawers down in the neighborhood, you're going to be alert for him."

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