Kindle Battling Back

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Former Texas star plans on being a Raven in 2011.

Former Texas star plans on being a Raven in 2011.

By Charean Williams

Doctors once doubted him, but Ravens linebacker Sergio Kindle always has believed he will play again.

Kindle is back in Baltimore rehabbing three months after he took a wrong turn during the night at a friend’s house and fell down two flights of stairs. Kindle, who has a hairline fracture in his skull, has yet to regain his balance.

“I’m encouraged every day,” Kindle said. “I might not have gotten this opportunity to come back. It’s a blessing that the team actually brought me back. I’m doing everything I can to get back to 100 percent, if not 150 percent, and be as good as I was before I got injured, if not better.”

Kindle was expected to have an immediate impact as a pass rusher after the Ravens made him the 43rd overall pick. He drew comparisons to former University of Texas teammate Brian Orakpo, who had 11 sacks for the Redskins as a rookie in 2009.

But Kindle never even made it to training camp.

On the night of July 25, he lost his way in an unfamiliar house after going to the bathroom during the night. Kindle doesn’t remember much after that.

“I remember when I was on my way to hitting the stairs,” Kindle said.

Doctors initially were not optimistic that he would ever play football again. He spent two weeks in an Austin, Texas, hospital.

“The doctors threw that out there as a possibility [that he wouldn’t play again],” Kindle said. “I know I have to play it safe, because it’s a head injury. But the way I’ve always felt about it: I felt I’d be able to play again. I just didn’t know how soon. I know for sure that next year I’ll be on the green grass again.”

Kindle signed a one-year contract that will pay him a prorated salary of $282,000. He received no bonus. (Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, drafted one spot before Kindle, signed a four-year, $4.44 million deal with a $1.76 million bonus.)

He is working out, learning the playbook, attending meetings and doing occupational therapy. Kindle attends home games and watches road games on television. For the first fall since he was 4 years old, he is not playing football.

Kindle, though, is taking it one step at a time, one day at a time.

“After falling down, and facing the possibility of not having your dream come true, a dream you’ve had your whole life,” Kindle said, “it made me seem like I was taking it for granted, the opportunity that I had. I’m not saying that I was, but I will just say there were things that I’ve done that weren’t great. Now, with this second chance I have, I’ve got to make the best of it.”

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