By Matt Derrick
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Andy Reid knows the career of edge rusher Terrell Suggs well, going back to their first meeting on the field in 2004, but when the Chiefs found themselves with a chance to land the 37-year-old defender off the waiver wire, the coach had to take a look at the tape to see what kind of player the Chiefs were getting.
“He still can play,” Reid said. “Loves to play, loves to play the game. He’s one of those kind of guys. Arguably a future Hall of Famer, so we’re glad to have him here. I’ve coached him before in the Pro Bowl, coached against him, glad he’s on our team right now.”
Suggs nonchalantly walked into the Kansas City locker room on Wednesday without making a big fuss. Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi didn’t even recognize him at first.
“I didn’t realize who it was when he first walked in,” Nnadi said. “I was like, who’s that guy? ‘That’s Suggs.’ Oh, OK. Introduced myself.”
Suggs may have strolled gently into the Chiefs’ locker room on Wednesday, but he’s done anything but that in a 17-year career. T-Sizzle has 138 sacks over his career through consistent excellence, relying upon not just physical skills but a high football IQ as well.
Patrick Mahomes learned in last season’s meeting with the Ravens all about the veteran’s savvy and ability to apply film study on the field to disrupt the quarterback.
“I remember there was one time where they blitzing away from him and I know he was dropping, but I was trying to check into a different play,” Mahomes said. “I don’t know if he had seen it from weeks before, but I went to throw the ball and he was right where I wanted to throw the ball.”
The Chiefs believe the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Suggs can help them on the field, but the club values his intangibles as well. The one-tie NFL defensive player of the year and seven-time Pro Bowler also has something most of the roster lacks: a Super Bowl championship, won with Baltimore in 2013.
“You’re talking about an experience guy who’s been there and done it,” Reid said. “He’s won championships. He’s a good person, he’s been a leader throughout his career. You don’t last this long in the league if you’re not a quality player and person. That’s what he brings to you.”
Fitting into the locker room might have been the most important fit, specially for Suggs himself.
“I just learned the hard way that a player like me doesn’t just fit in anywhere,” Suggs said. “Coach Reid said, ‘Trust me, you’ll fit in here.’ I took him at his word, and it’s been pretty exciting, been pretty fun since I got here.”
Mahomes doesn’t believe Suggs will need much time acclimating himself with the Chiefs’ defense.
“He understands so much already,” Mahomes said,” and I’m sure he’s been in certain schemes and switched schemes and done different things that he’ll be able to pick up the plays fast and understand what they need to do and what his role his as far as every play goes. So I’m just excited to see him get incorporated more and more as we make a run at this thing.”
Suggs also knows defensive coordinator Steve Spanuolo from their time in Baltimore. Spagnuolo was a senior defensive assistant with the Ravens in 2013 and defensive backs coach in 2014. He believes he can continuing learning from the coach in Kansas City.
“He’s been doing a good job just evolving the defense, kind of evolving how players play and how to do certain calls,” Suggs said. “That right there, that can help a guy in his 17th year.”
Reid didn’t commit to playing time for Suggs, but there’s no doubt the Chiefs need him immediately. Alex Okafor suffered a torn pectoral muscle on Sunday against Denver, ending his season. That leaves the Chiefs with just three healthy edge players: Frank Clark, Tanoh Kpassangon and Demone Harris.
Reid wants to take it day-by-day with his new player, but he likes what he’s seen and heard so far.
“He’s very passionate about making sure he knows everything, not only about his play but how he goes about his business,” Reid said. “He was digging in this morning and getting everything down and making sure he’s got all the ins and outs of the defense down.”
Suggs said he hopes to play Sunday at Chicago.
“I think I can come in and contribute right off the bat,” Suggs said. “This is a team that was a penalty away from the Super Bowl last year. You’re not really missing much, but hopefully I can add that extra addition that we can potentially do something special.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and a contributor for Sports Radio 810 WHB. Follow him on Twitter @mattderrick.