Future dimming for Kindle?

Future dimming for Kindle?

Ravens

Future dimming for Kindle?

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I hate to see a basically good-hearted kid like Sergio Kindle fail at pro football due to self-inflicted wounds…but it’s set up that way, it seems.

Linebacker Sergio Kindle (6-3, 250) in his playing days at Texas…seems like a long time ago!

John Harbaugh has basically told Kindle he’ll get one more shot to make the club next season…assuming Kindle is medically cleared for a full recovery from a hairline skull fracture… and assuming the kid stays out of further trouble with the law.

Kindle is still quite an athlete. First of all, he’s fast, boasting 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash—very good for a big defensive guy. He also plays with energy and fire, and he’s a vigorous pursuer and sure tackler with a penchant for causing fumbles. A blistering pass rusher, Kindle can wreak havoc from either standup or three-point positions. His speed, height and reach make him a capable pass defender. Kindle could become the ultimate hybrid LB/DE, able to shift from linebacker coverage to speed-rushing defensive end in a heartbeat.

But we knew all long Kindle was going to be a difficult project. Remember the scouting reports around this time last year, and also in 2009, coming out of Texas?:  “Kindle is sometimes too eager. He can be faked out of a play, and will overrun it on occasion. While he’s not easy to pick up, he can have trouble getting himself free when a blocker locks on to him… His off-field decisions haven’t always been good, either. He was suspended for three games in 2007 after being charged with DUI. Last summer, he sustained a concussion when he crashed his car into an apartment building. He was texting while driving.”—Pro scout reporter Jon Matsune

The Ravens decided to take a chance on the kid with incredible athletic talent but a questionable head. Ozzie & Co. drafted Kindle early in the 2nd round of 2010 with the 43rd pick overall.

Almost immediately, they regretted their decision. Three days before camp started, Kindle fell down two flights of stairs at a friend’s house, fracturing his skull. He was not under contract and was signed to a one-year, $320,000 deal before spending the year on injured reserve.

Kindle, who finished his Longhorns career with 176 tackles — 43 for loss — and 16 sacks, said he and the Ravens are seeking second and third opinions on his injury before he can be cleared for contact drills. He is able to do all of the workouts.

“I’m not [scared],” Kindle said. “I’m hoping for the best but at the same time it is a head injury and the doctors are looking out for my best interest. If they see anything that is a question, they’re going to let me know about it, which will be better off in the end. You don’t want to go in not being full speed and get hurt and be done forever.”

But the worst part of this continuing story: Kindle was arrested in December on a DUI charge and has a March court date. He called it another “poor decision on my part.”

Gee…ya think?

Kindle said, based on talks he has had with the Ravens, including head coach John Harbaugh, that he will get the chance to earn a roster spot in 2011 if he is cleared physically.

“It’s a learning experience, going through some of the things I’ve been through,” Kindle said. “And it sounds crazy but in a sense it seems like I might have needed that to wake up and see that there’s a million people that want to be in the position I am in. I can’t take it for granted. I’ve got to put everything I can into it to get everything out of it.”

“I just have to make better decisions. Grow up and be a man because that’s what it takes to be in the NFL,” the 23-year-old outside linebacker said. “You have to be a man, not only in football. It’s about what you do outside the field, because you’re seen by everybody nowadays, and you’ve got to be able to handle the spotlight as much as you want it.”

That sounds nice… but there are a lot of folks in Texas who know Kindle who say he is followed by a black cloud of bad luck…with no apparent end in sight.

He had something like three knee operations in college, and his dad has lamented for years that Sergio just seems to do “really dumb things” to injure himself in the daily business of life when he’s not getting his knee busted up on the field.

This is not playing out well for Kindle and the Ravens at the moment. But I’ll keep an open mind. I guess at $320,000 a year, Kindle is worth keeping around for one last look. I just lament the waste of a great draft pick last year… and if Kindle’s light continues to dim out, it could go down as the worst draft pick in Ozzie’s career.

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