OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens injured outside linebacker Sergio Kindle has all but officially been ruled out for his entire rookie season, and coach John Harbaugh said the team hasn’t been given any guarantees that the former University of Texas star will ever play football again.
Kindle fractured his skull and was hospitalized when he fell down two flights of stairs at a friend’s house in Texas a few days before the start of training camp.
The Ravens’ second-round draft pick recently underwent a battery of neurological, cognitive and medical exams in Baltimore at Sinai Hospital with independent doctors conducting the tests. At this point, he’s not medically cleared to play and is out indefinitely.
"He’s got some serious issues that he’s dealing with," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I think the chances of him playing this year are slim. We’re going to be very, very careful. The doctors will be very careful. Sergio will be very careful with that type of an injury."
Harbaugh emphasized that there’s no way of currently determining if the former All-Big 12 pass rusher will ever play again.
"They don’t know," Harbaugh said. "There’s no way to predict these things. You don’t know how a brain heals. It’s different in everybody, and there’s just no way to predict it. So, you just have to see where it goes."
When asked if Kindle’s NFL career could be finished before it ever really started, Harbaugh replied: "Yeah, there’s always a chance of that absolutely. You’re talking about a brain injury."
Kindle is dealing with the grim reality and is continuing to go to physical therapy every day back in Dallas, his hometown.
Kindle, who suffered a one-inch long gash in his head that required staples for two to three weeks, expressed confidence that he’ll play again.
"I know I’ll play football again, I don’t know when, but I’m going to make it back," Kindle told the 24X7 in a telephone interview. "Things will get better. I’m staying positive, always."
Harbaugh said that the Ravens still plan to sign Kindle to a contract this year, albeit one that protects the team in case he’s unable to play. It’s likely that the Ravens would be hesitant to give Kindle a big signing bonus and may want to give him a roster bonus that kicks in if he’s eventually cleared to practice and joins the active roster.
"We’re dealing with the management council to try to work out the issues of the contract," Harbaugh said. "We’re going to try to get him in here and make him a part of things. He wants to be here. He wants to be a part of things. He wants to get back on track. While we do that, he can continue his physical therapy through the process and just see where that takes us.
"We’re going to try to sign him to some form of a deal that reflects his situation. Give him an opportunity, you know? Again, I doubt he’ll play this year, highly doubt he’ll play this year. We’re trying to do the right thing, two ways. We’re trying to protect our investment, protect Steve’s [Bisciotti] investment and give him a chance to pursue his dreams still."
A fast 6-foot-3, 250-pounder with 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash as a former prep star running back, Kindle was projected as a potential first-round draft pick.
However, he fell in the draft due to concerns about his knees, a diagnosed narcolepsy condition and some off-field issues, including a driving under the influence arrest and a driving while texting incident where he crashed his car into an apartment building.
Kindle was initially expected to operate as a situational pass rusher for the Ravens and as a backup to starting strongside linebacker Jarret Johnson, but those plans were scrapped because of his accident.
According to NFL spokesman Corry Rush, the Ravens have until next April’s draft to sign Kindle. If they opted to not sign him or were unable to agree to terms, he would be eligible for the draft again.
"I hope we’re talking soon about me coming back there and doing my contract," Kindle said. " I don’t know when that will happen, hopefully soon."
Kindle said he continues to make steady progress and is working out hard. He remains upbeat about his outlook.
"I’m feeling good," Kindle said. "I’ll be feeling a lot better once I get back there. I’m not frustrated. At first, I was because I didn’t understand and now I understand. Being patient is a good thing. Being frustrated won’t help."