Two years after the Ravens selected him in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, linebacker Sergio Kindle has yet to make a start, a tackle or a significant impact on the team’s fortunes.
An opportunity has presented itself to Kindle in the form of a season-threatening Achilles injury to Terrell Suggs, but he insists his mindset hasn’t changed. To him, every season is make or break.
“I feel that way every year because I haven’t proven anything yet,” Kindle said Wednesday.
Kindle, who was one of 83 players in attendance Wednesday as the team opened up its second day of organized team activities to media, missed the 2010 season after he fractured his skull during a fall days before his first training camp. Kindle, who turns 25 in September, was cleared to play in 2011 but was active for just two games and did not show up on the stat sheet.
The former University of Texas standout won’t be guaranteed a roster spot this fall, but the Ravens haven’t given up on him. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said earlier this month that Kindle “has to show us that he can do it this year.” And with Suggs, the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year expected to be sidelined for a big chunk of the season, he will get a chance to earn a larger role.
“I was hungry when I was injured. With the opportunity to get out on the field, of course it’s different,” Kindle said. “I’ve just got to make sure I stay focused -- stay on top of my plays, perform well at practice -- and that’s what’s going to get me on the field.”
Kindle says he is also trying to stay focused off the field, too. He was arrested for driving under the influence in December 2010 (and was also arrested for driving while intoxicated in college). He said he doesn’t own a car and lives in a hotel. After leaving the team facility Wednesday, he planned to take a nap, study the playbook, and watch the NBA playoffs or “Family Guy” on TV.
He believes he is “stronger, smarter, wiser” after a difficult start to his career, and doesn’t want to put himself in bad situations, especially not “with the chance to play a lot greater this year.”
Kindle admitted that the hearing loss that resulted from his fall down a stairwell has hampered him. Pointing to his left ear, he said that his hearing hasn’t improved, but he has become “more acclimated to everything now.” He remarked that he hasn’t been on the field with the defense, so it’s hard for him to tell how crowd noise will affect his ability to hear calls and commands.
He and the Ravens, who brought him along gradually, are working to find a way to overcome the hearing loss. But Kindle said “everything else is fine” after the accident. He is now learning both outside linebacker positions and is ready for whatever is thrown at him next.
“It’s no holds barred,” Kindle said defiantly. “Whatever they put on the bar, I’m lifting it.”