Kindle Catching Up Mentally

OLB Sergio Kindle found a way to learn the playbook midway through the year.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

From a health standpoint, Sergio Kindle made his return this year.

But the Ravens’ second-year linebacker was still catching up mentally.

That played into why he was active for just two games, Kindle said on Monday.

“The main thing was getting the playbook down,” Kindle said. “When you’ve got to start cold turkey on that, it’s rough.”

After fracturing his skull on the eve of his rookie season, the 2009 second-round pick had to sit out the entire year.

He couldn’t work with coaches over the summer because of the lockout and was essentially a rookie again when he returned this season. Except now he had major hearing loss in his left ear, which further complicated matters.

Kindle showed flashes of his pass-rush talent in training camp, but had room to grow as an overall linebacker, particularly in coverage and knowing his assignments. His hearing loss added to the amount he had to learn, since communicating on the field is more challenging.

Kindle worked closely with Outside Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino to learn the scheme. He estimated he found a way to retain it about midway through the season.

Instead of just reading the playbook, Kindle started to draw the formations himself and then write in what his responsibilities are on each play, per offensive formation, per route.

“We just tried to find ways for it to stick and we did,” Kindle said. “It just simplified it for me.”

“Sergio has made tremendous progress in his learning of the playbook,” Monachino said.

“He is still in the process of learning the detail and taking the gray out of the playbook. We try to get things down to the lowest common denominator with all of our players. This process has been longer with Sergio because of a lot of different factors.”

Monachino said the next step for Kindle is applying his knowledge of the package to the field, where the Xs and Os are moving and his responsibilities sometimes change.

Kindle logged 16 sacks in his final two seasons at Texas. So he and the Ravens know there’s potential.

Kindle was signed to a one-year contract last offseason, which now makes him an exclusive-rights free agent. He had Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson and Paul Kruger, who made great strides in his development and playing time, ahead of him this season. Johnson is an unrestricted free agent.

“My main thing is to get stronger and be a more aware coverage guy at linebacker,” Kindle said. “That’s the main thing, to come in and be a factor and step up to the plate when it’s my turn to bat.”

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