Are Terrell Suggs days in the NFL coming to a close?

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— Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs recently spoke about being the last man standing and the fact that he is on the “back nine” when it comes to his NFL career. Following Ed Reed’s retirement and more significantly, the trade that sent Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions, left Suggs as the last defensive stalwart from the Ravens top notch defense that helped the team win the Super Bowl in 2012.

Suggs usually makes it a point to remind people how young he is whenever he is asked about his age. That wasn’t the case at mini-camp this year. The 13-year veteran sang a different tune this year. He said that he wanted to pace himself and make sure that he had something left for the end of the season.

“It’s year 13 for me. I can’t really be stressing. I used to always say, ‘I need to be ready by minicamp,’ and it used to weigh on me, bother me. I didn’t want to let it bother me this year. I owe it to myself to sit, pace myself.” Suggs said. “Therefore, come the tail end of the season – Week 9, Week 10 – I still have something left in the tank. I’m just trying to pace myself and really not try to do too much right now.”

Last season got off to a different start. Suggs came to mini-camp noticeably lighter in weight and had high energy levels. He showcased the change by running all over the field and from drill to drill. This year, he still hustled on the field but he admittedly was not quite in game shape. Suggs described himself as not being at his “fighting weight” but more so at his “walking around” weight.

This off-season required a different approach for him. He didn’t want to stress and wanted to let his body heal from the physical abuse, which is something that he said he owed to himself. Despite that, Suggs was definitely functional on the field at mini-camp and said that he will be fine by July.

Entering his 13th year is something that Suggs feels requires a change in the thought process. He said that when a player gets into the teens, playing becomes a year-by- year process. His focus is on this year, which is a year that he is really looking forward to because of what this team can do. After the season, he will reevaluate where he is and make a decision based off of that.

At 32, Suggs still feels like a young man but he cautioned that playing like a Raven is different from other teams. “I am only 32, but you know, we play a different kind of football here. We have a different kind of training camp, so my 32 may not be the next guy’s 32. I am a young 32 but 13 years in the NFL is still 13 years in the NFL even though I’m still a young 32.” Suggs said.

The departure of Ngata is another thing that has changed Suggs’ mindset. He says that it was weird coming back and not having Ngata there with him in Owings Mills.

“It’s year 13, so it’s weird. It’s a whole new look, whole new team. I’m just trying to enjoy it. It’s a whole new feel. It’s definitely weird having everybody kind of just move on.” Suggs said.” It definitely was kind of weird coming back and him not being here. He’ll always be a Raven in spirit but I’m just trying to cope with it for right now.”

The 2014 season saw Suggs accomplish many things. He teamed with Elvis Dumervil to form the NFL’s most productive sack duo. The two combined for 29 sacks. Suggs had 12 sacks, which was the second highest total in his career. He also became the 31st player in NFL history to garner 100 or more sacks.

That’s a huge accomplishment in the eyes of Dumervil. “Over 100 sacks, to me, that’s a Hall of Fame – type of career. You’ve got to respect what he’s done – Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl Champion. He’s been doing it for almost 12 years. He’s a student of the game.”

The days of seeing #55 causing mass disruption on opposing offenses may be coming to an end. Suggs spoke like someone in the twilight of their career recently. The 2015 season could be a special one for the Ravens because of many reasons but if it is the last season that the Ravens have Suggs, it will really be the end of an amazing era.