Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata will play a large role in how good the Ravens are defensively in 2013.
Hampered by injuries, neither Suggs nor Ngata had stellar years individually in 2012, yet the Ravens won the Super Bowl. The Ravens will need more from Suggs at outside linebacker and from Ngata at defensive tackle, if they are to lead a defense that has made numerous personnel changes.
NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes has tagged Suggs and Ngata as two defensive players “under fire’’ heading into next season. Dukes believes that Suggs needs to become the Ravens’ defensive leader now that Ray Lewis has retired, and Ed Reed has departed to the Texans.
“This guy’s been a great player in this league, no question about it,” Dukes said on “NFL AM.” “But the reason the heat is on Sizzle (Suggs) is because he’s going to now have to fill that void left by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, as the leader of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense. In addition to doing things on the field…he’s also going to have to find ways to make sure he rallies that defense. One of the great things that Ed and Ray did – they were there to get players where they needed to be. That’s what I’m looking for out of Sizzle. Somebody’s got to fill that void.”
Dukes said that Ngata must play at a higher level to warrant being one of the league’s top-paid defensive players. Ngata is in the third year of a five-year, $61 million contract.
“What does this league do?,” Dukes said. “We give guys these big contracts, but we look to find reasons to have them renegotiate their contract.”
With training camp starting this week, both Suggs and Ngata have already shown they are rising to the challenge. Suggs, who is 30 years old, reported to minicamp in great shape, and looked fully recovered from last year’s Achilles injury. Ngata, who is 29 years old, said at minicamp that he and Suggs had talked about competing for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Both Suggs and Ngata have enjoyed dominant seasons in the past. The Ravens are hoping they will rise to that level again in 2013.