Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, underwent successful surgery on his torn Achilles tendon Tuesday afternoon, but his availability for the 2012 season remains a significant question mark.
The surgery was performed by noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte,N.C.
"After some recovery time, [Suggs] will begin the process of rehabbing the area," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement released by the team Tuesday night. "We know he will work hard to get back on the field with his teammates as soon as the doctors and trainers allow. We're confident that he can make a full recovery."
Suggs said he suffered the torn Achilles on April 18 while doing conditioning work near his Arizona home. He told The Baltimore Sun that he saw two doctors and one diagnosed him with a partial tear and the other called it a full tear.
The Ravens didn't announce the severity of the damage done to Suggs' Achilles tendon or whether a full or partial tear was discovered. Suggs and his agent, Joe Segal, also didn't return requests for comment. However, the hope remains that Suggs could return at some point during the second half of the 2012 season.
Suggs' surgery capped a busy day for the Ravens, who signed free-agent wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones to a two-year, $7 million deal and rewarded hard-hitting veteran safety Bernard Pollard with a three-year extension.
The Ravens also agreed to terms with three of their recent draft picks: second-round selection Kelechi Osemele, a guard from Iowa State; fourth-round pick Christian Thompson, a safety out of South Carolina State; and fifth-round pick Asa Jackson, a cornerback-kick returner who went to Cal Poly.
Defensive tackle Ryan McBean, the former Denver Bronco who agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Ravens on Monday, learned that his six-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancement policy had been reduced to three games. As part of that agreement, McBean agreed to drop a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that the league improperly handled his drug test.
However, the news that clearly will affect the 2012 season most is the health of Suggs who led the AFC with a career-high 14 sacks in 2011 while becoming the third player in Ravens history to be named the league's top defender. In the finest season of his career, Suggs also forced an NFL-high seven fumbles, had two interceptions and made 70 tackles.
The best-case scenario appears to be that Suggs, 29, will return to the field by November. However, a study done by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2006 established that even though the basic length of time to return to full activity after Achilles surgery is four to six months, the average return to playing in an NFL game is 11 months. Even then, it takes some players far longer to regain their speed and explosiveness.
Suggs, however, was adamant in an interview with The Sun last week that he will return to the field during the 2012 season.
"It's amazing people are starting to write me off already, the entire season," said Suggs, who has missed only three games in his nine-year NFL career, all coming in 2009 when he sat for three games with a knee injury. "It will take three or four months to heal. Well, it's still three months before training camp, and then another month of training camp. At the minimum, I'll be back in October, and at the maximum, most definitely back in November."
With Suggs expected to miss an extended period, four-year veteran Paul Kruger and 2012 second-round pick Courtney Upshaw, drafted the day before Suggs was injured, are the favorites to start at outside linebacker but that's little consolation to Kruger.
"To me, it was all bad news. It's terrible," Kruger said Monday night at a charity event hosted by Ravens center Matt Birk. "The bottom line is we lost one of our best players and I hope he's back for the first game of the season. I'm not sure what the diagnosis is yet."
Running back Ray Rice, who also participated in the charity event, said that if Suggs is sidelined, "somebody else has to step up."
"I know Terrell. Terrell will be back this season," Rice said. "He's always been a man of his word and he's going to do what he needs to do to get back. He's a great teammate and a great friend, and I wish him a healthy and speedy recovery."