OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Sergio Kindle’s entire NFL career has been about waiting.
It began when Kindle sat around until the second round of the 2010 draft before finally being selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 43rd overall pick. Then, after fracturing his skull falling down a flight of stairs, Kindle had to wait an entire year for medical clearance to play.
This season, it’s about biding his time before getting his first taste of NFL action. Kindle hasn’t missed a practice and contends he’s in good health, yet he’s been on the inactive list for the first three games.
“Patience is a virtue, so I’m not worried,” Kindle said. “It’s going to come.”
Kindle hasn’t played in a competitive football game since the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, when he had six tackles for Texas against Alabama in a duel for the national championship.
Asked about Kindle’s inactivity, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh bluntly replied that Kindle simply hasn’t performed well enough to warrant a look on game day.
“I say work hard and get better. If you’re not dressing, it’s because you’re not good enough yet. That’s a fact,” Harbaugh said. “I hate to say it that way, but the fact is, there are better players right now.”
Kindle was similarly spurned in the 2010 draft, when he squirmed uncomfortably waiting for his name to be called. After trading away his first-round pick, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome settled on Kindle as the team’s top choice.
At the time, Newsome dismissed rumors that Kindle dropped in the draft because of a knee injury. Kindle, in turn, said he didn’t expect the knee to be an issue, and insisted that two traffic mishaps — a 2007 DWI arrest and a 2009 crash while he was texting — should be of no concern.
“I’m going to be rookie of the year,” Kindle declared.
He was supposed to step in as a pass rusher on the opposite side of sack specialist Terrell Suggs. But just before the start of training camp, he took a tumble on the stairs in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar house.
Kindle was placed on injured reserve in September and spent his entire rookie season trying to shake the effects of the injury. He still had trouble hearing out his left ear at the start of training camp this year, but saw action in preseason games and appeared ready to go.
So why is he still wearing street clothes on Sundays?
“I don’t ask,” Kindle said. “It’s not physical. My body is good.”
Friends and family constantly ask him when he will finally get into an NFL game, and Kindle has the same answer every time.
“I just tell them to be patient. They don’t have to deal with it. I do,” he said. “When I get on the field, the whole reason is to shine and let my talents be known. But it’s got to wait.”
There’s no telling how long.
“Sergio is young, he’s talented, he works hard and he wants to be a good player,” Harbaugh said. “So, his challenge is that, when his opportunity comes, he needs to be ready. That’s what he’s working for right now. It could be this week. It could be five weeks. It could be 10 weeks. We really don’t know.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)