Terrell Suggs Injury: Why a Return in 2012 Is Still Possible

James Reagan@@James__ReaganCorrespondent IIMay 3, 2012

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 24:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a sack against the San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the 49ers 16-6. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

Most of the time during the NFL offseason, no news is good news. No news means that players are quietly going about their business, attending offseason training and enjoying their time off. Oh and no news usually means that they're not suffering potential season-ending injuries.

That's why the news out of Baltimore today is absolutely a fan's worst nightmare. Terrell Suggs has reportedly suffered a Achilles tendon injury that has put his 2012 season in jeopardy. 

Anyone saying this doesn't have a large impact on the Ravens defense is outright lying. We're talking about the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, a player who has become a focal point on the Ravens' star-studded defense. He is by far the team's top pass rusher and the leadership he provides on defense is irreplaceable.

Regardless of the extent of his Achilles tendon injury, it's a serious injury that takes a lot of time to recover from. That's why the next few days are going to very telling as to what we can expect from T-Sizzle in 2012. Already on Tuesday he is planning on seeing foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson to get an idea as to the extent of his injury. 

Suggs has told the Baltimore Sun that he has seen two doctors already and both gave him conflicting diagnoses. One said it was a full tear, the other said it was a partial tear. 

The general length of time to full activity following an Achilles tendon surgery is four to six months. However the average return to playing in an NFL game is 11 months. So the degree of the tear will probably determine just when Suggs returns.

Despite the grim nature of his injury, Suggs has been very optimistic in his comments to the media. He's even gone as far to say that at the minimum he'll be "back in October" and at the maximum, "most definitely back in November."

That is extremely optimistic and it would be easy for people to think that Suggs is just putting on a brave face. However Suggs' injury history is extremely good for being a pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL. He has literally missed three games his entire career, all of them coming in 2009 when he suffered a knee injury.

For Suggs to be back in October or November, he's going to have to have a lot of things go his way. And even if he does come back, he could very well not be playing at full strength. This means that regardless of what happens with Suggs, the Ravens' younger outside linebackers will have to step up.

Already it was assumed that recent second-round pick Courtney Upshaw would compete with Paul Krueger and Sergio Kindle for Jarrett Johnson's vacant spot at SAM linebacker. Now two of the three will probably be starting on Opening Day.

Right now I think that Upshaw is the best bet to replace Suggs as the Ravens' leading pass-rusher. He had 15 sacks over his last two seasons in Alabama and is looking to prove that he should have been a first-rounder like four of his college teammates. Krueger meanwhile, had a career-high five sacks last season and he was probably going to get Johnson's position even before Suggs went down.

The wild card in here is the immensely talented but often injured Kindle. He has yet to get a tackle during his brief NFL career and considering he was a second-round pick, has to be viewed as a massive bust so far. If Kindle can deliver on his pre-draft promise though, he can still be a starting caliber linebacker in the NFL.

The Ravens will be worse without Suggs, there is no doubt of that. But they can survive without him and still win enough games to be a force in the brutal AFC North.

It goes without saying that every Ravens fan has got to be hoping that Suggs is going to be back in October or November. Given his injury history, that could still be a possibility. For now though, it will be exciting to see whether or not any of the Ravens' young linebackers can use this opportunity to prove they can start in the NFL.