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Ravens LB Suggs to be 'game-time' decision Sunday

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Ravens LB Suggs to be 'game-time' decision Sunday

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs doesn't intend to let a torn right biceps keep him out of Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.

``We kind of live by the creed of, if you can breathe then you can play,'' Suggs said Wednesday. ``We just got to check it out. We got to see how it holds up throughout the week. (It will) definitely be a game-time decision on Sunday.''

The injury occurred last weekend in the fourth quarter of a 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh.

Another injured Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis, returned to practice Wednesday - the next stage of the 37-year-old's attempt to come back from a tore right triceps. Lewis was hurt Oct. 14 against Dallas and placed on injured reserve, designated for return.

``I'm making progress and will practice some today,'' Lewis said in a statement. ``But the story shouldn't be about me right now. We're playing the Redskins Sunday, and I am not eligible to play. If I can help prepare my team in some way for that game, I will. When I know I will play in a game, or when I play in a game, I will say more then.''

Suggs, on the other hand, will be on the field for the Ravens (9-3) against the surging Redskins (6-6) if his ailing right arm won't hinder his effectiveness.

``I don't want to be out there and can't make a play because I'm unhealthy and I don't have a full biceps,'' he said. ``It's more if I will help us or hinder us by playing.''

After missing the first six weeks of the season with a torn right Achilles tendon, Suggs returned sooner than expected and has 19 tackles and two sacks in the last six games. Given his remarkable recuperative powers, Suggs appears to be a good bet to be among the Ravens chasing Robert Griffin III at FedEx Field on Sunday.

``That's Suggs,'' Baltimore defensive back Corey Graham said. ``He comes back from everything, so nothing would surprise me with him.''

Defensive tackle Terrence Cody added, ``The guy is really tough. He came off an Achilles. Now, he's got this injury. You really find out about guys in situations like this. It means something to him. It's always good to have a guy like that on the team that's going to play through everything, loves to play football, loves to go to war like that.''

The 30-year-old Suggs missed only three games in his first nine seasons before this year. He played in all 16 games last season, had 14 sacks and helped the Ravens reached the AFC title game before being named NFL defensive player of the year.

Baltimore appears on course for another trip to the playoffs, but nothing is assured - yet.

``We got a job to do and we've got to get a win,'' he said. ``...If I can play with it, we're going to do everything we can to protect it so I don't injure it anymore.''

Playing with a torn biceps is not unprecedented.

``I've been told a couple of guys in the NFL are playing with torn biceps and that it may get better, it may not, you may need surgery, you may not,'' he said. ``We're going to go over it and decide what's best for the team and myself.''

Baltimore is 4-2 with Suggs in the lineup, and his presence has been a factor in the improved play of outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who has five sacks in the last four games.

``Players like Terrell Suggs do make everybody around them better, so that's probably part of it,'' coach John Harbaugh said.

Lewis is another player with that quality. There is no timetable for his return, but the Ravens don't seem to be the Ravens without No. 52 in the middle of the defense.

``This will be part of his rehab, and we'll see how he does,'' Harbaugh said. ``Whether he gets back soon, late, at all, what he's done to work through the injury, the rehab he's put himself through ... it's really impressive.''

Having him on the practice field wasn't the same as having him in the huddle, but it was an encouraging sign.

``He's Ray Lewis. Everybody knows how much it means,'' linebacker Jameel McClain said. ``Whether it adds up to something in the long run, we don't know that yet. Only Ray knows that. But having him here is definitely a plus for all of us.''

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.