Baltimore Ravens rookie linebacker Sergio Kindle suffered a fractured skull when he fell down two flights of stairs last week and has been ruled out of training camp.
The unsigned second-round draft pick remains hospitalized in Austin, Texas at University Medical Center Breckenridge and is in stable condition.
"We’re really disappointed about that," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That was tough for him. It didn’t sound like it was too serious, and then it sounded like it was serious and they held him back because he was showing some signs of concussion and things like that. He’s not in any trouble, but he’s in the hospital for a reason. I think he has a fractured skull and a little bit of swelling."
While he’s recovering rapidly from his injuries, the former University of Texas star is experiencing swelling and is unable to travel for at least the next few weeks.
It’s unclear when Kindle will be able to play and the team will take a cautious approach with his recovery.
"He’s not going to be able to travel for a few weeks at least, so we won’t be seeing him here during training camp at all," Harbaugh said. "After that, we’ll just have to see where he’s at and just kind of play it by ear and see how well he develops. I know one thing: We’re going to be very careful with that.
"You’re talking about a head injury, playing football. That’s not something we’re going to be in a hurry to mess with. Just from a football standpoint, I think we’ll move on with the guys we’ve got and get ready to play this season."
Kindle got injured last Thursday night at a home in Austin, the college town where he developed into an All-Big 12 selection.
Kindle’s fall apparently happened because he was unable to see where he was going.
"He was in some kind of a function for some friends," Harbaugh said. "He stayed overnight, got up in the middle of the night and took a wrong turn. It was pitch black where he was at. He couldn’t see where he was going and he fell down two flights of stairs. So, that’s what we know."
Harbaugh said no one has been able to speak to Kindle since the accident, but they have communicated with his father, Johnny Walker.
"We had a really long conversation," Harbaugh said. "He feels comfortable that everything is being handled the right way, and that’s where it’s at."
The team had slated Kindle for a situational pass rusher role working behind starter Jarret Johnson.
Antwan Barnes, Jameel McClain and Paul Kruger could see more snaps in practice as a result of the injury.
"It’s like any injury," Harbaugh said. "If a guy gets hurt, you move onto the next guy. So, we’ll be preparing without Sergio."
Now, the team regards any contribution from Kindle as an unexpected development.
A talented pass rusher, Kindle was expected to contribute as a rookie on third downs and on special teams.
"If at some point in time, he can come back and play, that would be a great bonus for us," Harbaugh said. "But he’ll have a lot of catching up to do. The main thing right now is his health."
Kindle still hasn’t agreed to terms with the Ravens on a contract.
It’s not expected to progress quickly, especially since there’s no rush to finalize the deal to get him into camp on time.
Harbaugh said that general manager Ozzie Newsome is talking to the NFL Management Council about how to go forward from a business standpoint with Kindle.
Traditionally, an injured player receives the same slotted value for his draft position.
It’s possible that Kindle could be designated on the roster with the non-football injury list.
"They’ll just figure out how to work all that stuff out," Harbaugh said. "I’m sure he’ll be signed at some point in time. He’s a part of our football team. He’s a Raven, he’ll be here. They’ll just have to work all that stuff out."
Upon arriving at training camp Monday, teammates expressed concern about Kindle.
"It’s crazy," defensive lineman Arthur Jones said. "I hope he gets well soon. I’ve been trying to call him."
In the past, Kindle has had off-field issues.
He was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol three years ago, serving a three-game suspension as a sophomore.
He crashed his car into an apartment building last year and left the scene of the accident without calling the police after incurring a mild concussion. Kindle explained the accident by saying he was texting while driving.
Kindle grew up in an extremely rough neighborhood in inner-city Dallas.
"Sergio always thought he had bad luck all his life," Walker told 24×7. "I’m just glad he’s going to be fine. It’s a scary thing."
Kindle is the father of a four-year old son named Sergio, Jr.
"Sergio has matured a lot over the past few years," Walker said. "He never thought anything bad would happen to him, but he’s learned that you can’t get away with doing those things.
"If he listens and learns, he can accomplish a lot. With Ray Lewis there in Baltimore, he’s got the best teacher anyone can have."