When it comes to the touchy subject of Baltimore Ravens' second round draft pick in 2010 Sergio Kindle most fans will tell you anything he can produce at this point will be a bonus for the team. However, now that Terrell Suggs may be lost for the season, many of those same fans like to lump Kindle in with the potential Ravens 2012 pass rushers.
That is great that some fans are excited about seeing the kid actually take the field but just because Suggs is hurt doesn't automatically mean that Kindle is all better. Like most of you I am a bit fuzzy on exactly what happened to Kindle in the off season before his rookie campaign. What we do know is that he fell down some steps, cracked his head open and hasn't been the same since. The reports I have read/heard have said that he has had lasting concussion symptoms and lost most of, if not all, the hearing in his left ear. That could be the end of his career within it's self.
However, despite his tragic accident and subsequent lingering effects, the Ravens have practiced patience in his case and seem to be willing to give him another shot at playing football in purple and black. The team could have given up on Kindle at any time. Especially considering the fact that he fell in the draft due to character and injury concerns and all he has done is show precisely that at the next level.
When things started to go south with former left tackle Jared Gaither the team was not shy about expressing their discontent with him and let him walk even though he showed the ability to possibly be a top 10 talent at his position. In short, the Ravens wait for no man. If they don't like the way things are going they have no problem walking away from any situation. Just ask Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg and Willis McGahee. All were cut due to salary cap reasons and the team trying to get younger but if you had told most Ravens fans the previous year that those players would be cut the next, no one would ever have believed you. The Ravens, however cut them all at once and had no qualms about it and smoothly transitioned into the team we all saw last season.
The coaches and/or front office must still see something in Sergio that makes them think he can be effective at the NFL level. I never got to see much of Kindle in a Ravens uniform but I did hear great things about him in the few practices he participated in before his accident. From what I've heard he was really something special to watch. Former Redskins' GM and now host of "The Vinny And Rob Show" on 105.7 The Fan Vinny Cerrato said that "Kindle had that rare combination of speed and size you just don't see that often in a true football player". In other words, he understood the game well and could compete at an elite level. If Kindle can regain his prior form, oh what a treat that would be for Ravens fans.
The competition for the open OLB spots on the vaunted Baltimore Ravens defense will be the toughest and most competitive in camp this year. Besides Kindle, fourth year OLB Paul Kruger, second year DE Michael McAdoo, second year OLB Albert McClellan and rookie second round pick OLB Courtney Upshaw will all be fighting for the staring roles. At this point Kruger and McClellan would have to be the favorites due to the fact they have played in the system and are a step ahead in the process. The system will be changing a bit this year though with new defensive coordinator Dean Pees and this could level the playing field a bit for all players involved. Which is great news for Kindle, unless it was Chuck Pagano who held all belief in him.
Kindle does have an outside chance to win a spot on the defense in camp but it's doubtful it would be as a starter. The most likely scenario is that, if he does well, he could contribute this year as a situational pass rusher. This will be his first year with a full training camp to work with the team. If the former Longhorn standout has anything left we will find out this season. We know the Ravens aren't counting on him after selecting Upshaw with their first over all pick but he will have his shot this season to make his mark on the team. Hopefully he can return to form and show everyone he's still got it but some solid special teams contributions and a few sacks in pass rushing packages would be a treat from someone most have already given up on... Until now.