PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
When asked why Sergio Kindle wasn’t playing in late September, Head Coach John Harbaugh put it bluntly.
“If you’re not dressing, it’s because you’re not good enough yet,” he said. “The fact is there are better players right now.”
Since then, Kindle has apparently become one of those better players.
He was active for just the second time this season Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, and saw action on all special teams units and even defense late in the fourth quarter.
It was really the first time the coaches chose to dress Kindle considering he was only active in Week 4 against the Jets because the Ravens suited up every healthy body.
“He just has a better understanding now,” Harbaugh said. “He’s made a lot of progress, and we think he’s ready to play more and more.”
Kindle suffered a fractured skull after falling down a flight of stairs on the eve of training camp last year. He sat out the entire season, and returned for training camp this year with no physical setbacks.
But catching up from a learning aspect was an entirely different ballgame. Due to his long recovery from the head injury, Kindle didn’t have a true rookie season. And because of the lockout, he had no offseason.
“I think in some ways, he started over from a football standpoint,” Harbaugh said. “He had been out for so long, and then the injury maybe had some kind of an effect. But he’s been working very hard and he’s been studying very hard.”
Harbaugh credited Kindle, Outside Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino and Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg for putting in the work. Harbaugh said Kindle stays after practice every day to work on special teams.
With Paul Kruger’s emergence as a rush outside linebacker this year, Kindle’s main place on the team is for now special teams. That’s where he shined on Monday, which should lead to more opportunities.
Kindle didn’t officially get credit for a tackle on special teams, but he was in on one in the first quarter. Kindle held the edge well and then broke on returner Joe Lefeged to hold him to a 15-yard return. Fellow outside linebacker Edgar Jones was credited with the stop.
“I kicked some tailbone, I think, on special teams,” Kindle said. “I’ve learned a whole lot more. I’m aware of what’s going on out on the field. I think it’s evident when you’re watching film.”
After watching tape of Monday’s game, Harbaugh said Kindle was “very solid” on special teams, getting all his blocks and covering kickoffs well.
He wasn’t quite as impressive in his defensive assignments.
Kindle was put into the game on Indianapolis’ final offensive drive, which ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme on the last play of the game.
While thrilled to rush a quarterback in a regular-season game for the first time in his NFL career, Kindle said it’s not the greatest feeling being out there when the other team scores.
“He didn’t really get on track,” Harbaugh said, evaluating Kindle’s defensive play. “I think he was playing a little more solid, conservatively. He can definitely crank up that pass rush a little more.”