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Sergio Kindle got a text message from Head Coach John Harbaugh a couple weeks ago.
It simply said, “I have big expectations for you.”
Kindle shares the same feeling.
In his third season, he’s trying to make his first real impact.
Kindle was hospitalized before his rookie season began and spent the entire year trying to recover from a fractured skull. He returned last year, but didn’t make an impact once training camp ended, being activated for just two games.
Now he says his expectations for himself are just as big, if not bigger, than anybody else’s.
“I feel like this is a make-or-break year for me,” he said.
“You don’t get too many opportunities. Three strikes and you’re out. It’s the third year, man, so I’ve got to at least get on base.”
Kindle reported to the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program from the start. He said he’s been “training his tail off” in Texas and appears to be in excellent shape.
His health and physical makeup aren’t the problem anymore, Kindle says.
It’s more learning how to play his position, and in particular learning how to read opposing offenses.
“I know exactly what to do on most of the stuff, as far as coverages,” Kindle said. “But offenses are audibling and motioning so much now, there’s a lot of things that change pre-snap. That’s what I have to get into and get a feel for.”
What complicates Kindle’s ability to read what’s going on before the snap is the hearing loss suffered as a result of his fall down a flight of stairs. It makes communication with his teammates more difficult.
“It is an issue,” Kindle said. “But if you learn everything pre-snap, then you won’t have to worry about nobody giving you the call. You can see if for yourself. It always helps, but I don’t want hearing to hinder my playing, so I want to learn everything myself.”
Kindle will be competing with Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan for time. He said he’s trying to learn the Rush and Sam linebacker spots (both right and left outside linebacker) to have a better chance of playing.
“I have to get on the field somehow, someway,” Kindle said. “The coaches are going to give me every opportunity and I just have to make the best of it. That means putting more into the playbook studying and less into everything else.”