Kindle optimistic he'll get medically cleared

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Sergio Kindle is optimistic that he will be cleared for contact soon, and is traveling to Boston and Michigan over the next few days to visit neurological specialists. Kindle missed his entire rookie season due to a fractured skull suffered when he fell down two flights of stairs in late July days before training camp.

How will Kindle know if he can withstand the rigors of football? That's where his medical situation gets complicated.

"The main thing is the actual contact," Kindle said. "There's no way to really evaluate that until you do it. They're going to be looking at the healing of my head and whatnot and my body. It looks like I'll be able to take a hit. My balance is improved by far.

"One thing I've done is put a helmet on and banged my head against a wall. I'm careful about how hard I do it. I haven't had any problems. I think I'm ready to hit. I can't wait to play football again."

Drafted in the second round last year out of the University of Texas, Kindle has been training in his hometown of Dallas and taking online classes toward his degree. Kindle works out four times per week, including drills, running and lifting weights at a workout facility run by former Olympic gold medalist sprinter Michael Johnson, outside of Dallas.

Kindle said he currently weighs roughly 240 pounds. He has been taking online classes toward completing his degree in youth and community studies. He would like to be a coach one day when he's done playing football. "One of my coaches came down and worked me out and I showed him around the facility to show them I'm not going to be slacking off," Kindle said. "When or if I get cleared, I can get back on the field in stride." A former All-Big 12 selection, Kindle said it wouldn't bother him if the Ravens draft another pass rusher given his situation. The Ravens signed Kindle to a one-year, $320,000 contract last fall that didn't include a signing bonus. They can retain his rights by assigning him an exclusive rights tender.

While acknowledging that they are unsure whether Kindle will be allowed to play by doctors, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and other team officials have indicated that they will hold onto Kindle and give him every opportunity to play again. "Of course, I have no say in who they draft," Kindle said. "I don't mind at all. I would welcome the guy in as a teammate. If they clear me, you're going to have a hell of a competion on their hands to beat me out. I love to compete, so I'm not worried about that. Nobody is going to hand you anything on the football field. You have to earn it."

Meanwhile, Kindle is looking forward to putting a pending driving under the influence case behind him. Arrested in December, he has been assigned a March 8 court date in Howard County District Court in Ellicott City.

"The main thing is I want to get it over with and figure out what they're going to do," Kindle said. "I don't know how the Maryland law works, but I want to get it behind me and not have to worry about it anymore."

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