Still healing physically, Ravens outside linebacker Sergio Kindle is turning his attention to maturing mentally.
Arrested and charged with drunken driving the morning after Christmas, Kindle spoke about the need to "grow up" two days after the team's season-ending 31-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC divisional playoff game.
"The guys never lost trust in me. It's just me and my decision-making," Kindle said in the locker room as his teammates cleaned out their lockers. "That's what it's mainly about. I just have to make better decisions. Grow up and be a man because that's what it takes to be in the NFL. 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."
Kindle, the organization's first draft pick in 2010, fell down a stairwell at a friend's house three days before training camp opened and suffered a skull fracture that sidelined him for the season and jeopardized his career.
Kindle, who has participated in physical therapy with the team, said he has finally been given the green light to take part in noncontact football drills.
"I'm training and everything right now, doing football drills finally, even though I thought I could do them a long time ago," he said. "But I'll wait for the doctor's consent. So all I've got to do now is continue to do what I'm doing so that when we come back, I'll be in tip-top shape — if not better than I was when I came [to the Ravens]."
Coach John Harbaugh, who expressed the organization's disappointment in Kindle after his arrest, said the team will give Kindle every chance to realize his potential.
"At some point in time, there's a balance to all these things," Harbaugh said. "There's nothing for us to gain by not giving him an opportunity to become a player. We've got a lot invested in him right now. I think he understands what he needs to do. We will see based on what he does, but he's a good person, he's got a good heart, he wants to do the right thing and he's got a chance to be a very good player. So we'll do everything we can to see if he can make that happen."
Kindle said he is hopeful that he will return to the team and the sport he has missed.
"Sometimes you feel like you take for granted things that you love and you don't know it until it's taken away from you," he said. "So I definitely have a great appreciation for it, and a greater appreciation for me having an opportunity to still play after my incidents and whatnot because I could be elsewhere right now. But I'm here, so I'm grateful for that."
Optimism regarding E. Reed
Harbaugh said he thinks seven-time Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed will return next season.
The nine-year veteran, 32, underwent hip surgery in the offseason, sat out training camp and the first six weeks of the regular season, and dealt with the disappearance of his younger brother who jumped into the Mississippi River while evading police Jan. 7. Despite those troubles, however, Reed led the NFL in interceptions with eight in 10 games and became the franchise leader in interceptions with 54.
"I've seen him say publicly where he plans on playing for as long as he can, and he's told me — I don't think he'd mind me saying this — he wants to play football," Harbaugh said. "Ed's got a chance this offseason to be healthier than he's ever been going into a season because I don't think he has anything major — that I'm aware of right now — any major injuries. He's got some things he's got to work through, and I think he's going to have a full year of offseason conditioning. He's really excited about that. I don't want to speak for him. He'll have to tell you all that, but I think Ed's going to have a great year next year."
Gaither's status up in the air
A history of injuries (neck, foot, ankle and, most recently, thoracic disk in back), questions about his commitment to football and impending contract negotiations could pave the way for offensive tackle Jared Gaither to land with another team.
Still, Harbaugh didn't rule out the possibility that Gaither, a fifth-round selection in the 2007 supplemental draft who is in the final year of his rookie contract, could be back and be a part of the organization's plans.
"Jared was here at the meeting, and I'm not giving up on Jared Gaither," Harbaugh said. "I've got high hopes for Jared Gaither. We'll just have to see because his contract issues are out there, too. So hopefully, he can fulfill all of the things that he's trying to fulfill in his career, because he wants to be a great player."
Interest in Burress?
With the Ravens' aerial attack perhaps needing a boost, could the organization be interested in former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress?