Still self-assured but not as provocative as he had been in April, Sergio Kindle finally arrived at the Ravens' practice facility Friday, 61 days late and perhaps months away from playing any meaningful football.
On the night of July 22, Kindle made a wrong turn in the dark, fell two flights of stairs and suffered a hairline fracture in his skull. Friday, he had a rookie contract and a future with the Ravens again.
"In my opinion, I knew for sure I'd be able to play again," the second-round draft pick said during a seven-minute meeting with the media.
Coach John Harbaugh said last week that he doubted Kindle would play this season because of the injury. He said the pass-rushing linebacker would attend defensive meetings, lift weights and perform football drills on his own for now.
"It's just going to be a process of getting back on track," Harbaugh said. "I'm sure, as far as a normal person, he's probably fine. But when you're talking about playing football at this level, he's not there."
Kindle, who turned 23 on Monday, was enthusiastic about his return. He appeared to have difficulty identifying which reporter was asking each question from a group of reporters in a semicircle around him. He was cooperative, but hesitant at times.
Kindle said he was thankful for the opportunity to start over. Not playing, he said, had been the hardest part of the process so far, "and I don't find that hard anymore because the good thing is that I'm still here today. I was blessed to make it through that and get a second chance."
The top pick for the Ravens in April's draft and the 43rd overall selection, Kindle said he has tested better in physical reactions than to verbal questions.
"With the injury, it did knock off my balance," he said. "We did reaction testing, and I'm not sure how that works because I'm not a doctor. I think I'd do better with physical reactions more so than question-reaction testing, but if we were to do it all over again, I'm pretty sure I'd do better."
Kindle previously said the fall did not result from a drinking binge, and Friday he said that he didn't think narcolepsy — with which he was diagnosed in 2006 — had anything to do with it, either.
"Basically, all I had to do was turn the lights on," he said. "I walked out the bathroom, was supposed to turn right, and instead of turning right, I went straight. All I had to do was turn the lights on to find my way. I basically blindly walked into a stairwell."
Kindle said a housemate heard him fall, but he declined to identify whom that person was.
The next thing he knew, he was in a hospital.
"Being not in my right mind, I was basically trying to leave," Kindle said. "My first question was, 'Will I be able to walk, get up and be healthy again, and will I be able to play football again?' They were like, 'Yeah,' [but] they couldn't put a timetable on when. Based on my recovery, I know for sure that I'll be able to play again."
Kindle, who was suspended at the University of Texas for three games after an arrest for driving while intoxicated, said he has a new grip on life.
"It was a wake-up call for me," he said. "I've made poor decisions in my day, but I can honestly say this one happened for a reason. I'm glad it did because I learned from it. It opened my eyes to see things in a bigger picture than what I was. I'm a better person for it today."