More than 18 months after becoming the Ravens' top draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Sergio Kindle finally made his professional debut in Sunday's win over the Jets.
Asked about his first NFL action after the game, the outside linebacker was so excited he had trouble finding the right words to describe the experience.
"I think happy is an understatement. You've got to put happy, ecstatic, excited all together into one word and see what you get," Kindle said. "It's just a blessing to be active, to finally get some wear and tear on my cleats besides the practice facility."
A second-round pick out of Texas last year, Kindle appeared destined to make an immediate impact on the Ravens defense as a pass rusher. His career was put on hold last July, however, when Kindle fractured his skull in a fall down a flight of stairs.
After a long rehabilitation process, Kindle was cleared to return to the field this training camp, and after being declared a gameday inactive for the first three games of the regular season, the 24-year-old finally got his first taste of game action Sunday night against the Jets. Kindle was a part of the kickoff coverage unit all night, and got two pass rushes at the end of the game.
The linebacker's presence on the 46-man active roster was due in large part to injuries to other Ravens (the seven inactive players Sunday night were all held out because of various ailments), but Kindle wasn't going to let the circumstances damper the moment.
"I got my feet wet, that's what matters," Kindle said. "I waited a long time for this. I would say it was emotional. I was excited, anxious, jittery, but just happy because it's been a long, long time. I waited for this day for a long time and now it finally got here."
Kindle said he was close to getting a hold of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez on one of his two pass rushes late in the fourth quarter (the image at right backs him up), and joked with reporters that he should get credit for one-quarter of a sack, or at least a hurry.
"Regardless, I was close," Kindle said. "If I get my jump on the ball, I would've got it."
A week ago, head coach John Harbaugh said that Kindle hadn't yet suited up for a game this season because he was "not good enough yet". While the first-year linebacker still has a lot of learning to do before he's ready to contribute in key situations, Harbaugh said that the Ravens still have high hopes for Kindle, and are eager to see how he adjusts in practice now that he's gotten his first NFL snap under his belt.
"We think he's a very good player," Harbaugh said. "He's a young player. He did a nice job in kickoff coverage and ran down there hard. He had a couple of plays at the end and really brought it in the pass rush.
"So, that's a good first step for him to get his feet wet, and it will be fun to see how he can respond to that, because sometimes when you play a game, now you've got a little different perspective as far as practice and developing your game a little bit."