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Often loud, Suggs takes quiet approach on Day 1

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Often loud, Suggs takes quiet approach on Day 1

NEW ORLEANS (AP) As Terrell Suggs made his way to his seat for his first media appearance of Super Bowl week, a member of the Baltimore Ravens' PR staff pointed at the linebacker and whispered to a colleague: ``I think somebody should be here.''

Yes, generally, better safe than sorry with Suggs. Never know what he's liable to say.

Except this time, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year was hardly a loud mouth. Not in the mood, apparently, to stir things up before his Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers for the NFL championship next Sunday.

Given a chance to crack wise or lob insults on a variety of topics - from President Barack Obama's concerns about football safety to New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's tattoo - Suggs was soft-spoken and thoughtful Monday. Even made sure to praise the 49ers.

Now we'll see what happens Tuesday in the circus that is Super Bowl media day.

The last time Suggs was seen leaving the field after a football game, he was tossing curse words and insults in the direction of the New England Patriots after Baltimore's defense shut out Tom Brady and Co. throughout the second half of a 28-13 victory in the AFC championship game.

Since then, Suggs has kept things low key within earshot of reporters, aside from the occasional non sequitur shouted in the locker room at the Ravens' practice facility last week.

Asked Monday whether he would be providing any bulletin-board material for the 49ers to latch onto, Suggs quietly replied: ``Maybe. Got to wait and see. I mean, nothing I do is scripted, so got to wait and see what I come off the noggin with, when I come off the top.''

Yet as he sat there in front of microphones and cameras, wearing a pinstriped gray suit with polka-dot tie and just-so pocket square, Suggs sounded mostly, well, scripted.

He did make sure to correct a reporter who opened a question by pronouncing Suggs' first name incorrectly - for the record, the emphasis goes on the second syllable, not the first - but otherwise said many of the right things.

Someone wanted an assessment of 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, one of the players who will try to slow Suggs' pass rush, and this is what came forth: ``Solid. Very good offensive tackle. I think he's highly underrated, but he was a Pro Bowler this year, so I think he finally got his just due.''

Then Suggs thought back to Baltimore's 16-6 victory over San Francisco last season and offered this: ``Had a little bit of a hard time with him. You know, he's a great player.''

What about San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the guy Suggs will be chasing Sunday?

``I like the way he plays,'' Suggs said.

Someone else wanted a nickname for Baltimore's defense. No luck there, either.

``Ask me on Feb. 4,'' the day after the Super Bowl, was the reply.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

When the topic turned to Obama's recent statement about wondering whether he'd let a son play football, Suggs gave a considered response, saying that he respects that point of view ``for the simple fact that this is a very physical and dangerous sport that we play.''

Asked whether he would allow his own 4-year-old son to pick up the sport, Suggs said: ``Absolutely, but it would have to be his choice. Football isn't for everybody. If my son ... came to me and said, `Dad, I want to play football,' then I would let him play.''

Toward the end of Suggs' interview session, a reporter brought up Ryan's body art.

After playfully saying to the reporter, ``Are you from New York? Last I checked, it was 49ers-Ravens. ... The Jets are nowhere around,'' Suggs launched into a from-the-heart discussion (OK, with some kidding around, too) about what the media doesn't need to know.

``Who cares? I've probably got something on my (body) that y'all don't see that's probably inappropriate, but who cares? I think you blow that all out of proportion,'' he said. ``Everybody should have a certain amount of privacy, even if they're in the public eye. ... We're not just football players. We're not just coaches. We're human beings, too, and just keep that in mind.''

It's been a difficult season for Suggs, who played in only eight of 16 regular-season games because of injuries. He missed the first six weeks because of an Achilles tendon problem, then also missed time with a torn right biceps.

A guy with four double-digit season sack totals - including a career-high 14 in 2011, when he also led the league with seven forced fumbles - only had two in 2012.

As someone who, as he put it, has ``rarely ever been injured,'' it wasn't easy to deal with. But his teammates are sure he's rounding into form at the right time, the postseason.

``He's what you want in front of you - a playmaker, a guy who never stops,'' Ravens safety Ed Reed said. ``And he's been playing like that in the last three (games).''

One more game to go.

And five more days to watch what he says.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

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Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Don Martindale wondered if he would ever get a second chance to be an NFL defensive coordinator after his one-and-done disaster with the Denver Broncos in 2010.

The Broncos went 4-12 that season and gave up more points (29.4 per game) and yards (390.8) than any team in the league. Those miserable numbers, not surprisingly, cost Martindale his job.

He latched on with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 as linebackers coach. After working diligently with several stars, including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Zachary Orr and C.J. Mosley, the 54-year-old Martindale last week was promoted to defensive coordinator.

RELATED: WHO WERE THE RAVENS' MVP'S IN 2017?

To say he's pleased to be in charge of an NFL defense again would be a profound understatement.

"Without a doubt," Martindale said Thursday. "My family knows it. Everybody knows it. My players know it. I can't wait."

His performance in Denver eight years ago is hardly worth putting on a resume, but Martindale believes it was a worthwhile experience.

"Even though the stats were what they were, I was really proud with how we played," he said. "I'm glad I went through that process because I think that makes me a better coach today. It's like I tell my guys: You either win or you learn."

Martindale's new job with the Ravens carries the responsibility of overseeing a unit that has long been among the best in the NFL, thriving under notable leaders such as Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano and Dean Pees, who retired on Jan. 1.

"I've been preparing for this job all my life," Martindale said. "It's very humbling, but I understand the pressure and I look forward to the challenge."

Martindale takes over a defense that this season ranked 12th in net yards allowed, first in takeaways (34) and sixth in fewest points allowed (18.9). He has no plans to revamp the unit or change the philosophy, especially since head coach John Harbaugh stressed the need to retain continuity before launching his search for Pees' replacement.

RELATED: CALVIN RIDLEY A TOP PROSPECT FOR RAVENS IN 2018 DRAFT

Martindale will, however, put his own stamp on the unit.

"I think personality-wise, and just calls, there's going to be some things that are the same. And then there are going to be sometimes where I'm going to pressure more," Martindale said. "I just think I have a more aggressive personality in calling the game. Sometimes, too aggressive. That's some of the things I've learned from the past."

His most daunting task will be finding a way to make the defense to come up big late in the game. In 2016, a fourth-quarter collapse in Pittsburgh cost Baltimore a playoff berth. This season, a fourth-down touchdown pass in the final minute by Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton bounced the Ravens from the postseason chase.

"Our mantra has always been to finish," Martindale said. "We're close. Obviously, the last two years, it's been the last play that's knocked us out of it. We are going to work diligently -- all of us -- with our package and situational football.

"That's going to be the next step, I think, that will skyrocket us. That's the big thing that I see. We were really good. Let's make it great."

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Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

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USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

RELATED: FIVE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS RAVENS MUST ANSWER

Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.