Quick Links

Often loud, Suggs takes quiet approach on Day 1

201301281242457421727-p2.jpeg

Often loud, Suggs takes quiet approach on Day 1

NEW ORLEANS (AP) As Terrell Suggs made his way to his seat for his first media appearance of Super Bowl week, a member of the Baltimore Ravens' PR staff pointed at the linebacker and whispered to a colleague: ``I think somebody should be here.''

Yes, generally, better safe than sorry with Suggs. Never know what he's liable to say.

Except this time, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year was hardly a loud mouth. Not in the mood, apparently, to stir things up before his Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers for the NFL championship next Sunday.

Given a chance to crack wise or lob insults on a variety of topics - from President Barack Obama's concerns about football safety to New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's tattoo - Suggs was soft-spoken and thoughtful Monday. Even made sure to praise the 49ers.

Now we'll see what happens Tuesday in the circus that is Super Bowl media day.

The last time Suggs was seen leaving the field after a football game, he was tossing curse words and insults in the direction of the New England Patriots after Baltimore's defense shut out Tom Brady and Co. throughout the second half of a 28-13 victory in the AFC championship game.

Since then, Suggs has kept things low key within earshot of reporters, aside from the occasional non sequitur shouted in the locker room at the Ravens' practice facility last week.

Asked Monday whether he would be providing any bulletin-board material for the 49ers to latch onto, Suggs quietly replied: ``Maybe. Got to wait and see. I mean, nothing I do is scripted, so got to wait and see what I come off the noggin with, when I come off the top.''

Yet as he sat there in front of microphones and cameras, wearing a pinstriped gray suit with polka-dot tie and just-so pocket square, Suggs sounded mostly, well, scripted.

He did make sure to correct a reporter who opened a question by pronouncing Suggs' first name incorrectly - for the record, the emphasis goes on the second syllable, not the first - but otherwise said many of the right things.

Someone wanted an assessment of 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, one of the players who will try to slow Suggs' pass rush, and this is what came forth: ``Solid. Very good offensive tackle. I think he's highly underrated, but he was a Pro Bowler this year, so I think he finally got his just due.''

Then Suggs thought back to Baltimore's 16-6 victory over San Francisco last season and offered this: ``Had a little bit of a hard time with him. You know, he's a great player.''

What about San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the guy Suggs will be chasing Sunday?

``I like the way he plays,'' Suggs said.

Someone else wanted a nickname for Baltimore's defense. No luck there, either.

``Ask me on Feb. 4,'' the day after the Super Bowl, was the reply.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

When the topic turned to Obama's recent statement about wondering whether he'd let a son play football, Suggs gave a considered response, saying that he respects that point of view ``for the simple fact that this is a very physical and dangerous sport that we play.''

Asked whether he would allow his own 4-year-old son to pick up the sport, Suggs said: ``Absolutely, but it would have to be his choice. Football isn't for everybody. If my son ... came to me and said, `Dad, I want to play football,' then I would let him play.''

Toward the end of Suggs' interview session, a reporter brought up Ryan's body art.

After playfully saying to the reporter, ``Are you from New York? Last I checked, it was 49ers-Ravens. ... The Jets are nowhere around,'' Suggs launched into a from-the-heart discussion (OK, with some kidding around, too) about what the media doesn't need to know.

``Who cares? I've probably got something on my (body) that y'all don't see that's probably inappropriate, but who cares? I think you blow that all out of proportion,'' he said. ``Everybody should have a certain amount of privacy, even if they're in the public eye. ... We're not just football players. We're not just coaches. We're human beings, too, and just keep that in mind.''

It's been a difficult season for Suggs, who played in only eight of 16 regular-season games because of injuries. He missed the first six weeks because of an Achilles tendon problem, then also missed time with a torn right biceps.

A guy with four double-digit season sack totals - including a career-high 14 in 2011, when he also led the league with seven forced fumbles - only had two in 2012.

As someone who, as he put it, has ``rarely ever been injured,'' it wasn't easy to deal with. But his teammates are sure he's rounding into form at the right time, the postseason.

``He's what you want in front of you - a playmaker, a guy who never stops,'' Ravens safety Ed Reed said. ``And he's been playing like that in the last three (games).''

One more game to go.

And five more days to watch what he says.

---

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Custom cleats are taking over the NFL, and this Sunday, players will have a chance to wear them during the games. The league will allow players to customize cleats with designs that represent causes they care about. 

Ravens receiver Steve Smith has been outspoken about putting an end to domestic violence, so he plans to use his cleats as a platform for that message this weekend. 

The shiny gold shoes drew a lot of praise on Twitter, but one user decided to weigh in with a backhanded compliment. And as you'd expect, it was a mistake. 

For the uninitiated, there is a reason Smith warns people in his Twitter bio, "If you come @ me, it definitely won't end in your favor." Just ask Anthony Brown and Jalen Ramsey

MORE RAVENS: Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens

Quick Links

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Ravens injuries:

OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).

QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Dolphins injuries:

OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).

DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).

QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).

Five questions you should ask:

1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?

Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.

2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?

Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.

“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.

He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.

3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?

The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.

4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?

This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).

5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.

Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.

Ravens 20, Dolphins 17 

MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North