Still in search of that first "welcome back" play, Sergio Kindle nearly had two of them last night.
The Ravens' top selection in the 2010 draft, who is still working back from a fractured skull suffered over a year ago, nearly put on a dominating special teams display last night, as he got oh-so-close to blocking two separate punts.
Both times, Kindle broke in on the punter and nearly got a hand on the ball, but just couldn't quite finish the job.
"I did (get a good rush), but I had the wrong block technique," a smiling Kindle said after the game. "You're supposed to have your hands out, and I had my hands up. So, Jerry (Rosburg), our special teams coach, is going to give me an earful about that. Happy about the rush, but unhappy about the end result."
Kindle said he watched a replay of one of the near-blocks immediately after the game just to see what he had done wrong.
"Looking at the replay, it was close," he said. "I couldn't tell I was kind of past it. Almost it looked like it went right past my elbow."
Blocked punts or no blocked punts, last night was another positive step forward for Kindle, who at times last season was unsure if he'd ever play football again.
Now, the former Texas star is back in a Ravens jersey, making plays on special teams and delivering hits on the quarterback.
"The organization kept me here for a reason, and I'm just happy that I get a chance to prove to them that I've still got what they saw back in Texas," Kindle said. "That's why I'm here. It feels good just to contribute to this organization, this team, this defense, because it don't get no better than that."
Kindle's pass rush skills are still a work in progress as he adjusts to the NFL, but he's picking things up pretty quickly.
The 23-year-old delivered two big hits on the quarterback last night, one of which very nearly resulted in a sack.
So where does Kindle feel like he is at this point compared to his peak while at Texas?
"With time, I'll fine-tune my skills even more, but I don't think I'm where I need to be until I actually get a sack, you know?" Kindle said. "Close ain't good enough. I need to get there."