'Suggs package' works like a charm

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron extended his hand in the locker room, summoning over linebacker Terrell Suggs to congratulate him on his play-calling and personnel suggestions. "I meet with Suggs every Tuesday night and he tells me what to run," Cameron said following a 29-10 victory Sunday over the Oakland Raiders.

"He's great. 'Hey, Sizzle, I told these guys we meet every Tuesday night. You let the cat out of the bag.'"

Obviously, Cameron hasn't lost his sense of humor or his creativity.

In the aftermath of Suggs creating a minor quarterback controversy by twice endorsing former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith over rookie starter Joe Flacco during a radio interview and later backtracking to say he merely wanted Smith to be more involved, the Ravens unveiled their version of the Miami Dolphins' Wildcat offense.

"We're calling it the Suggs package," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who met with Suggs last week to discuss his opinionated remarks. "We thought of that before he came up with his quote. It was already in.

"It was funny because it was already in on Monday. It was in, and then the stuff came out on Wednesday. So, we're like, 'He's going to get all the credit for this.'"

Smith lined up at quarterback while Flacco set up at wide receiver. Smith ran the option with rookie running back Ray Rice for a 21-yard gain. In another sequence, Flacco took the snap, handed it off to Smith and he threw it back to Flacco for a 43-yard completion.

Although it wasn't actually because of Suggs' request, the package of plays received his approval.

"It was a coincidence," Suggs said. "I was misunderstood, but we had it in anyway. I ain't no offensive coordinator. I ain't no genius.

"Coach was like, 'We already had it in. We hope you didn't let the cat out of the bag.' They did a brilliant job."

A former Ohio State star whose bid for the starting job was derailed during the preseason when he was stricken with a serious tonsil infection that caused him to lose 20 pounds, Smith saw his first playing time since August.

The first five times the Ravens ran the formation, they ran the ball as Smith carried it twice and handed off to Rice twice as well as the option play.

"I was pretty excited," Smith said. "At the same time, I tried to stay even-keeled because I didn't want to make too big a fuss about it. I just wanted to stay on that level where I am going to be ready when my number is called and try to make plays.

"After a series of weeks of not doing anything and then getting in there and getting you first pop, it kind of wakes you back up to real live football. It felt good being out there with the guys."

The Raiders were obviously confused as Smith rushed for 13 yards on three carries and completed his only pass to Flacco for big yardage.

"It was incredible," Smith said. "It just shows what kind of all-around player Joe is. At 6-foot-6, you don't really talk about his versatility and athleticism. It shows what he can really do."

In a 27-13 win last week, the Ravens' defense shut down the Dolphins' Wildcat, turning it into a 'Mildcat.'

Smith took exception when asked to compare the Ravens' trickery to the Dolphins' offense, which is largely based on running back Ronnie Brown taking a direct snap.

"It didn't have anything to do with Miami at all," Smith said. "This is something totally different. This way I'm not a running back, I'm a quarterback. So, we just used versatility that way. Cam Cameron has done an incredible job."

Cameron said he won't hesitate to try to catch defenses off-guard in the future.

"If you practice it and never call it, the players just lose interest," Cameron said. "We've got to coach it, and the players execute it."

The Ravens also lined up massive defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at tight end on the goal line. The 6-foot-4, 350-pounder cleared out the right side of the Raiders' defensive front seven to create a big hole for running back Willis McGahee to run through on a one-yard touchdown run.

Ngata would like to eventually touch the football on a pass or carry it.

"I would love to get in the backfield," Ngata said. "I have been telling the coaches to give me a shot."

Perhaps he'll get his chance. Cameron seemed open-minded toward the idea.

Cameron also used running backs Willis McGahee and fullback Le'Ron McClain at wide receiver as well as tight end Todd Heap.

"The sky's the limit," Smith said. "We haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg yet."

Meanwhile, Suggs made it clear that he has no problem with Flacco being the starter.

"I went to him and told him," Suggs said, "that I really don't care who our quarterback is as long as we're winning."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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