As one of the Baltimore Ravens defensive leaders was coming off of the physically unable to perform list (PUP), another big name was added to it.
On Wednesday, the injury ridden Ravens were excited to welcome back the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs. The linebacker had been on the shelf while he recovered from an achilles injury he suffered in the offseason.
In years past, Suggs would have not been able to join his team, but thanks to the NFL’s new “designated to return” allowance, players are able to return to their team after having been on the list for a minimum of 6 weeks. Once they rejoin the active roster, the players have 3 weeks to get back on the field, or else they are returned to the PUP list. This allowed Suggs to join his teammates on the practice field for the first time this season.
For the Ravens, Suggs’ return could not have come at a better time.
Baltimore’s defense has been uncharacteristically porous this season, ranking among the worst 10 defenses at both stopping the run, and defending the pass. To make matters worse, the defense lost it’s best corner back, Lardarius Webb, to an torn ACL suffered during Baltimore’s Week 6 win against the Dallas Cowboys. The Ravens also lost the team’s heart and soul, when linebacker Ray Lewis was sidelined with a triceps tear in the same game.
The official word was that they had lost both players for the season, but while Suggs was coming off of the “designated to return” list, Lewis was being added to it. This would give the defensive General up to nine whole weeks to get healthy, which could mean a return to the team in time to make a run at the Super Bowl.
Baltimore sits at 5-1, and in control of the AFC North. The team has said they are not willing to have Suggs re-injure his achilles, and the plan is to ease him back into action. How slowly they ease him back into the game will likely depend on the pressure put on the team by the rest of the division.
If all goes well for the Ravens, they will head into the playoffs with both of its biggest defensive leaders on the field. If Lewis is unable to return this season, the question will become, will he return next season.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.