|Photo: Getty Images/Patrick McDermott|
Next to seeing 'Land Shark' Ray Lewis or the ballhawking Ed Reed go down with an injury, this is the last thing the Baltimore Ravens wanted to see.
Opposing quarterbacks can sleep a little more soundly during the upcoming season.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is likely to miss the entire 2012 season after tearing his Achilles' during a routine workout at his old high school.
This is a terrible loss for Baltimore. No offense to Lewis or Reed, but Suggs was arguably the best player on that defense at this stage of the three players' respective careers.
He wreaked havoc in his hybrid linebacker-end position last season, and for me personally as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan -- T-Sizzle was easily quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's worst nightmare.
Can the Ravens' defense still be great in 2012?
With the help of Lewis and Reed, you better believe it. But still, the absence of Suggs will definitely be felt.
You don't lose a talented player like him and then just plug in the next guy in line and expect to get the same production.
Suggs was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year after last season, where he tallied 70 tackles, including 14 sacks, and was a threatening chess piece no matter where he lined up on the field. He also forced seven fumbles and had two interceptions, helping the Ravens sweep the hated rival Steelers en route to an AFC North title and a berth in the AFC Championship game.
Before this injury, Suggs had been a poster boy for durability and consistency. Now, without him, Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach Jon Harbaugh will have to work some of their magic to fill the void.
Needless to say, that's easier said than done.
Sure, the Ravens got a great steal in second-round pick and former Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, but the team likened him more to a replacement for the powerful but less athletic Jarret Johnson, who signed with the San Diego Chargers this offseason as a free agent. Before the draft even started, Johnson is a player I would have compared Upshaw to, so that's a phenomenal fit.
But that still leaves a hole at the WILL linebacker spot. Potential plug-in candidates for that spot are Paul Kruger (who, before Upshaw as drafted, was expected to take over as SAM linebacker for Johnson), youngster Michael McAdoo, or former Texas Longhorn, and my favorite to win the job -- 24-year-old Sergio Kindle.
Losing Suggs was a devastating loss of catastrophic proportions, but if any team has the defensive depth to overcome it, it's the Ravens.