Give Sergio Kindle credit.
The Ravens outside linebacker, who has had a solid training camp so far, doesn't blame his failure to make an impact over his first two NFL seasons on his fall down a flight of stairs in July 2010. He sustained a fractured skull in the fall and missed his entire rookie season. He also permanently lost hearing in his left ear.
As I wrote today in profiling Kindle, he says the reason that he was only active for two games last year was that he couldn't get the playbook down. Thay may be true, but those who know Kindle suggest that his hearing loss remains an issue for him.
"I think the biggest thing is the hearing. I don't know if he's adjusted to that," said Bobby Estes, Kindle's high school coach at Woodrow Wilson High in Texas. Estes and Kindle still speak regularly. "That's still a learning curve for him. It's not like this is something he's had his entire life."
When he communicates, Kindle turns his body so his right ear is closest to the person he is speaking to. When he is playing the strong-side linebacker spot, Kindle can hear the linebacker calls and adjustments because they line up to the right of him. However, Ravens defenders know to get close to him when making the calls to make sure he hears.
But the Ravens are exploring a way to make things even easier on the third-year linebacker. They are discussing outfitting Kindle with a helmet equipped with a microphone so he could hear his teammates better. At this point, the plans are very preliminary and such a helmet would obviously have to be approved by the NFL.
"We're still trying to figure it out," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens Director of Public and Community Relations. "We don't have the answer yet but we will experiment."
Kindle said that he's not sure where things stand with the helmet, but he acknowledged that it could help him.
"It sounded like a good idea," Kindle said. "It was just something that was thrown in the air. It sounded good if possible."