OWINGS MILLS – Sergio Kindle busted through the line of scrimmage, relentlessly chasing Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young.
At the last moment while Kindle was closing in on his target, a running back came out of nowhere to block him out of the way.
Not even missing out on a potential sack could erase the smile from the Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker’s face following his NFL debut. Not after missing his entire rookie season with a fractured skull suffered during a flight down two flights of stairs days before training camp.
"I was a hair away," Kindle said following the Ravens’ 13-6 preseason loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. "I told him that after the game, too. My emotions would have been through the roof if I had got that sack. Besides that, it was great. It was just good to be back on the green grass live. That’s what I’ve been waiting a whole year and change for."
Most importantly, the former University of Texas star didn’t incur any setbacks.
He dealt out and absorbed hits in a real NFL game situation without incident.
"Make plays, really," Kindle said when asked what goals he had set for Thursday night. "Anxiety and all that stuff wasn’t there. Being nervous wasn’t there because the hits that my own teammates give me blocking wise, if I can take that, I can take anything."
Kindle was around the football a lot, but only finished with two tackles. The former Ravens second-round draft pick held up physically, but may have been a bit rusty.
"I noticed him, he was out there a lot," coach John Harbaugh said. "If you’re looking for spectacular, I don’t think it was spectacular. He played hard and did a good job."
"I think it was good for Kindle to finally get out there," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He ain’t played in a year. It was good for him to get back in the flow of things. Game-time energy is a lot different from practice."
One adjustment Kindle has had to make since the accident is dealing with major hearing loss in his left ear. He has regained his normal equilibrium.
The former All-Big 12 selection uses hand signals to get the play call from his teammates.
"Learning the hand signals was major," Kindle said. "The hearing wasn’t bad because the guy who gets the play call was right beside me or behind me. I make sure I stay close to him just to be sure I get the correct call and not have to worry about hand signals."
Kindle said he hasn’t experienced any problems getting the calls.
"Not really, not on defense, the fans are quiet," Kindle said of the Philadelphia fans. "We’ll see how that goes when we get to M&T."
On a few occasions, Kindle appeared a tad overeager and overpursued.
Overall, though, it was a positive step in his return to the NFL.
"Maybe missed alignments or missed assignments, I’m not sure," Kindle said. "On the quarterback scramble play, I might have overpursued or that was him being as elusive as he is. There’s ways I could have actually made that play. I feel like I could have done better, but overall it was a nice outing."