Early read on Kindle: The kid doesn’t lack confidence

‘I’m getting Rookie of the Year,’ he says

April 24, 2010|By Mike Preston

When the Ravens announced that they had taken Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle with the No. 43 overall pick in the second round, there wasn't much buzz. And then the Ravens turned Kindle loose on a conference call with reporters for about 15minutes.

Oh, my …

The kid is a nut, but in a good way. You can feel his energy and passion for the game. He appears to be honest and straightforward, and there is potential for him to be a great trash-talker. Some Ravens fans might be offended because Kindle is too confident, almost cocky at times.

But that's how defensive rookies should be. On offense, you want guys with character. On defense, you want guys who are characters. On offense, I like the scholarly, quiet type. On defense, I like them a little loud, but also with a deep respect for the veterans on the team. I like them like Kindle.

"Man, this feels [expletive] good," the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Kindle said of being selected by the Ravens.

You could really sense his excitement. It's apparently matched on the field, where Kindle can read and react, but also chase down opponents to the other side of the field. He has great explosion and excels at rushing the passer.

Now, picture this: On one side is Terrell Suggs. On the other side is Kindle. Sandwiched between are quarterbacks Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer.

"I get to the quarterback — that's my deal," Kindle said, "and I can only get better learning from Suggs and guys like that. The sky's going to be the limit once I get there and get in the system."

"I'm getting the Rookie of the Year. That's my goal," Kindle said matter-of-factly, when asked to compare himself with Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.

Kindle does come with some baggage. He reportedly has already had four procedures done on his knee, and there was a report Friday about him needing microfracture surgery on his knee early in his career.

In the past, the Ravens, like most other NFL teams, have scrutinized players with health concerns in college, much as they did with a running back out of Tennessee named Jamal Lewis in 2000. The Ravens wouldn't settle for damaged goods.

Kindle said he was healthy and that the Ravens could examine him again as soon as he lands in Baltimore.

"I don't think I need to have anything," Kindle said. "I guess once I get there, I'll let them look at it again and see what needs to happen, but I feel like I can go practice once the time comes."

There are also off-the-field issues. Kindle was issued a DWI in 2007 and also once crashed his car into a building while texting last year. The Ravens are aware of the problems and questioned him about them at the combine in Indianapolis

"I met with them during the combine, and it was good because they asked me about the driving-into-the-wall thing, and I had to draw it up for them, and they were kind of laughing," Kindle said. "They got a joke out of that, they got a laugh out of that, because I drew it up for them.

"You know, it was just a dumb decision on my part. I was just texting and driving and having bad judgment on how fast and how far you can travel while looking down for a split-second in the car. You know what I mean? And just that split-second, in a second or two, you can go from 200 to 300feet in a vehicle going 30. The Lord put me through those situations for me to learn and to make me the man I am today, make me tougher, make me stronger, make me smarter in my decision-making. So I'm a better man for it today."

The Ravens hope so. Kindle is a risk, but so are a lot of players in the NFL. There are few choirboys in the league, and even fewer on defense. The Ravens have been through their share of characters on defense before with Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Bennie Thompson, Chris McAlister, Duane Starks and Ralph Staten.

Kindle doesn't have to play right away. He gets a chance to learn from fellow outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and inside linebacker Ray Lewis. If you take away the knee problems, Kindle reminds you a lot of Suggs as a rookie, as far as raw potential and immaturity.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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