Late For Work 8/6: Special Helmet For Sergio Kindle’s Hearing Loss?

Depth chart revelations. Ravens sign ‘Shakespeare.’ Kruger not disappointing.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, August 6th, 2012 at 9:09 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Special Helmet For Kindle’s Hearing Loss?

The Ravens are exploring the idea of providing linebacker Sergio Kindle with a special helmet equipped with a microphone to aid him in better hearing his teammates on the field, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

Nearly two years after he fractured his skull in a fall, the Ravens’ top 2010 draft pick can finally flash his college potential again and has overcome difficulties in learning the playbook. Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino said, “Sergio has taken a quantum leap in terms of his mental approach to practice and film study and simply to just being a pro.”

But if there’s one obstacle still standing in Kindle’s way, it’s the hearing loss he sustained from the accident in his left ear.

He can only hear muffled noise from the left side, so he usually lines up at SAM linebacker to get calls from his teammates in his good ear. He has to twist his body around to hear people on his left side, which can be even more difficult in a stadium full of screaming fans.

Thus, the Ravens are exploring this new special helmet to make things easier on Kindle, but Zrebiec says the plans are “very preliminary” and would have to be approved by the NFL.

“We’re still trying to figure it out,” Ravens Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne told The Sun. “We don’t have the answer yet but we will experiment.”

The NFL could decide that the device would give the Ravens an unfair advantage, but’s Brian McIntyre says there is precedent thanks to Vince Lombardi.

“When he was coach of the Washington Redskins in 1969, Vince Lombardi ordered tests on the hearing of rookie running back Larry Brown, who was late off the snap of the ball,” McIntyre wrote. “It was determined that Brown was hearing-impaired in one ear, so a hearing aid was installed in his helmet to help relay the snap count. Brown went on to play in four Pro Bowls and was league MVP in 1972.

“As long as the microphone wasn’t connected to a coach or the sidelines, it would be hard to understand why Kindle wouldn’t be allowed to use technology from over 40 years ago.”

Depth Chart Revelations

With several position battles heating up at Ravens training camp, it’s usually tough to get a read on which way coaches are leaning.

But the team released its first depth chart last week, and it may have provided a few clues.

A word of caution to those of you dying to win that trip to San Diego in the “You Pick the Team” contest: the depth chart can easily change between now and the time the 53-man roster is announced on Aug. 31. As’s John Eisenberg noted, no one is going to hold the coaches to anything published in the first depth chart.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at what Eisenberg believes are some interesting revelations … on paper.

Left Tackle: When Bryant McKinnie was a surprise no-show for the first couple of days of training camp, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Michael Oher was the left tackle until further notice. Is the depth chart that further notice? According to the release, McKinnie is back on the left side with Oher on the right. “McKinnie hasn’t practiced yet after reporting late to training camp, but the Ravens obviously haven’t ‘given up’ on him, as some believe,” wrote Eisenberg.

Defensive end: It appears Art Jones is in the lead for the battle to replace departed Cory Redding, but Eisenberg points out that McPhee may only be behind because of an injury. The tables have turned as McPhee is back on the field and Jones is on the sideline with a hip injury. Could the rankings soon change?

SAM/Rush linebackers: For now, its rookie Courtney Upshaw who is penciled in at Terrell Suggs’ rush linebacker position, with three-year veteran Paul Kruger taking over Jarret Johnson’s SAM linebacker spot. “The depth chart generally favors incumbents and players who have been on the team, but Upshaw is penciled in to start as a rookie,” Eisenberg noted.

Right cornerback: Incumbent starter Cary Williams appears to be leading Jimmy Smith in the fight to be the starter opposite Lardarius Webb. But will it really matter in the end? Eisenberg says both will play regardless of the outcome.

Punt/Kicker returner: Jacoby Jones is listed as the starter for both spots, even though Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Webb could still be one of the returners. It will be interesting to see if Jones keeps those kickoff duties.

No. 2 running back: The exact running back order as of now: Ray Rice, Anthony Allen, Damien Berry, Bernard Pierce and Bobby Rainey. Buuut, “don’t believe what you read,” cautions Eisenberg. “Pierce, as a third-round draft pick, is the favorite, and Rainey, an undrafted rookie, is turning heads. This is wide open.”

Kruger Not Disappointing

Few Ravens are under more pressure right now than Paul Kruger.

He’s being asked to make the jump from a specialist to a three-down linebacker in the wake of losing Suggs and Johnson.

But nearly two weeks into training camp and The Sun’s Matt Vensel says the former Utah Ute “hasn’t done anything to disappoint observers.”

With 20,000 “observers” on hand at the open practice at M&T Bank Stadium Saturday, Kruger put on quite a show.

In back-to-back plays, Kruger dove and tipped a Tyrod Taylor pass to rookie wide receiver Deonte Thompson and then sacked Taylor on the next play.

Kruger didn’t just harass Taylor. He notched two sacks against starting quarterback Joe Flacco.

Ravens Sign ‘Shakespeare’

Overshadowed by the much-anticipated practice at the stadium Saturday was the Ravens’ signing of ‘Shakespeare.’

The team announced the addition of linebacker Stevie Baggs, Jr. shortly before practice began. He last played in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he notched 50 tackles and five sacks in 18 games. He adds a presence in a linebacker group that is short on players with injuries to Suggs, Michael McAdoo and Courtney Upshaw (who says his return is near).

According to his Wikipedia page, “[Baggs] is well known by his teammates and the CFL as Shakespeare because all he does is make plays.

Flacco ‘Really On The Money’

I have yet to find a bad review on Flacco’s training camp performance so far.

Another positive appraisal came in after Saturday’s stadium practice.

“Starting quarterback Joe Flacco has been impressive throughout the first two weeks of training camp,” wrote The Sun’s Matt Vensel. “He has showed off his strong right arm in red-zone drills in camp, firing footballs into tight windows for scores. And fewer of his throws are hitting the turf in his fifth NFL training camp.”

Flacco appeared to have his same chemistry with receiver Anquan Boldin Saturday. It was also encouraging to see the fifth-year quarterback’s “burgeoning chemistry” with newly signed receiver Jones, according to The Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson.

Harbaugh appears to be more than pleased with his quarterback’s play.

“He looked really, really sharp the last couple of days of practice,” Harbaugh said. “He came out here and looked very sharp, but I think it wasn’t quite there the way it was the past two days. A couple of drops, things like that, but Joe was really on the money. That was good to see.”

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