PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 15: Linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The timetable on the return of njured Ravens DE Terrell Suggs, as well as the severity of his injury, are jumping around, much like a football player does when playing pick-up basketball in the offseason.
Suggs told his followers on Twitter he plans to play in 2012, which isn't all that shocking of a statement. His ability to play, and the quality of his game upon his return is more of the question.
At the heart of the matter, though, is whether Suggs - or any NFL player under contract - is allowed to collect contract money in a year in which they are injured during a non-football activity that could result in injury.
To all my loyal and true fans, know that everything the can and needs to be done, WILL BE DONE!!!!!! I WILL BE IN A RAVENS UNIFORM IN 2012!!— terrell suggs (@untouchablejay4) May 3, 2012
Despite several reports suggesting the injury itself could cost him the season, Suggs told ESPN's Rachel Nichols (who reported via Twitter) it's only a partial tear of his Achilles, and he expects to play in 2012.
Just spoke to Terrell Suggs on the phone - told me injury is only a partial Achilles tear & he thinks he'll be back by mid-season— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 3, 2012
With that proclamation in mind, it's fair to point out most players have team-added clauses in their contracts which would not cover non-football injuries. Also, Suggs has said he did not injure it playing basketball, he injured it in conditioning drills while working out in Arizona.
One could make the argument playing basketball is a conditioning drill, however, and that's very often where players would stand on the issue. Playing basketball assumes certain risk of injury, just like running a wind sprint does (just ask Steelers RT Willie Colon). Both obviously help a player in the conditioning process.
His contract aside, it would seem more logical for Suggs to do everything he could to get on the field, in the event the Ravens press the issue and look to void out certain monies from his deal.
So his return could mean he comes back at less than 100 percent, something the Ravens may not want, and be motivated to pay him all the same to prevent further injury if he's forced to return earlier than he probably should.
It's the dirty side to the game, and many would simply hope an organization like Baltimore would pinch pennies (even if it's a few billion pennies) and force a cornerstone defensive player to risk further injury at an increasing age (Suggs turns 30 in October).