|After the Ravens' bye week, linebacker Terrell Suggs will further test his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon when Baltimore plays the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
After seeing 44 snaps against Houston, it appears Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is ready for more playing time against Cleveland this Sunday.
Suggs surprisingly returned to game action just six months after partially tearing his Achilles tendon. What's typically a year-long injury was cut in half after the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year underwent strenuous rehab to return to the field.
With a game under his belt and a bye week to regroup, Suggs is ready to take on more responsibility to help what's been a struggling defense through seven games.
"I feel like I'm getting better, slowly but surely getting back to my normal self," Suggs said. "But we're just going to take it week by week."
Suggs returned at a good time with LB Ray Lewis (triceps) and CB Lardarius Webb (ACL) going on injured reserve after Baltimore's 31-29 win over Dallas in Week 6. There is still a slim chance Lewis will return if the Ravens reach the postseason, though that's unlikely. Lewis is on the injured reserve-designated to return list.
With Lewis out of the lineup, Suggs said he has taken on a little bit more of a leadership role. However, Suggs knows he can't try to do too much and fully replace one of the game's greatest players.
"(Lewis') presence is still felt," Suggs said. "He still talks to all of us. He texted all of us the night before, and he texted all of us the morning of (the Houston game). So, his presence is still here. His physical presence on the field is not there, but we have a standard that we're going to be held by, especially when he gets back."
Suggs maintains he wasn't surprised that his rehabilitation went as well as it did. After Suggs played 55 percent of Baltimore's defensive plays against the Texans, coach John Harbaugh expects that number to increase this week.
"We expect him to take on a full share this week, which he pretty much did last week," Harbaugh said. "He was pretty close to that last time anyway -- not quite, but he was in that neighborhood. We'll have to see. Obviously, it's only the second game back, so we'll have to see how it goes during the game and during the week.”
His teammates are looking at Suggs for a lift as Baltimore enters the second half of its season. With Suggs participating in one of seven games, the Ravens rank 28th in total defense with 400 yards per game surrendered.
"We're excited to have him back for this game, knowing he has a game under his belt," nose tackle Terrence Cody said. "He got the feel for it, knows how he's feeling. It'll be exciting to watch him, knowing what he's doing."
The Ravens are hoping that getting Suggs back into the fold helps shore up some of the weaknesses present on the field. But Suggs knows he can't be the only one to step up in order to change what's happened during the first seven games.
“One man is not going to change that," Suggs said. "It's definitely a team effort. I think we all have to do things better, just the whole defense. It's not one man. It's not the personnel. It's really just executing and being accountable and being where you're supposed to be.
"Like I said, that's not a stat for one man. It's a team thing. We all just have to get back to playing Ravens-style football. We're not panicking, but we know we have to address it and it needs to get fixed ASAP.”
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter: @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.