Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs reported to the team Monday and began practicing after signing his $8.47 million, one-year tender.
On the advice of his agent, the Ravens' franchise player skipped training camp to protest the franchise tag. He's expected to play about 15 snaps against the St. Louis Rams in the team's third preseason game on Saturday night.
"It was the business side of it. I really didn't want to do it because I love football and running around," Suggs said in explaining his 23-day absence. "It was really no big deal. It gave me extended time to further prepare myself for the season."
Suggs, who has 45 sacks in five seasons, is likely to sit out the Ravens' preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons and then start the season opener Sept. 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Suggs seemed to be in good shape considering he had been working out with a personal trainer instead of bull-rushing offensive tackles, but noted that he wasn't in football shape yet.
"You could tell, the change of direction and burst," Harbaugh said. "But he was competing and fighting. He'll probably be a little sore tomorrow, but he's in good shape."
Suggs expressed optimism that a long-term deal will be worked out with the Ravens. His return wasn't tied to any conditions and the team is free to franchise him again after this season. There are no financial penalties for missing camp.
"I'm highly optimistic they'll eventually get something done," Suggs said. "I can't worry about it now. I haven't lost faith in them. I still think they want me here. That's all I've got to go on."
Suggs said he's going to treat several defensive players this week for an elaborate, expensive dinner as a penance for not reporting on time.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a 6-foot-4, 340-pounder joked that he might eat three porterhouse steaks, sample the dessert cart and take home plenty of food for his wife and his dog.
Also, Harbaugh indicated that he has decided who will start at quarterback against the Rams. However, he declined to reveal whether it will be Kyle Boller or Troy Smith.
"Not ready to announce it yet," Harbaugh said.
Note:@ Seven injured players returned to practice, including tight ends Todd Heap (calf) and Daniel Wilcox (toe), offensive tackle Adam Terry (sprained left ankle), Ngata (sprained right medial collateral ligament), cornerbacks Chris McAlister (right knee) and Samari Rolle (left leg) and David Pittman (foot) and linebacker Tavares Gooden (hip).