One false step is all it took to turn Sergio Kindle's life upside-down.
The injury wiped out his first season in Baltimore, and led to concerns that his career might be in jeopardy. But the 23-year-old Texas standout told the San Antonio Express-News in Monday's edition that he's fully recovered and ready for a return to the field.
Kindle said he's been cleared for football activities. He admits, however, that the true test of his progress will come when he takes part in physical contact drills. The lockout hasn't allowed that, yet.
"I'm (100 percent) now. I've been (lifting weights) since I got to Baltimore," Kindle said. "Now I'm actually training, football training, without the contact. Now I just have to wait and see whatever the lockout does so I can give it a shot."
The skull fracture and subsequent brain bruising led to permanent damage to his equilibrium. Kindle has very little hearing in his left ear, which doctors don't expect to change. He describes the year forced out of football as very difficult.
"It was rough. Being hurt is rough in itself, but not playing for a whole year, sitting on the sidelines, is terrible," he said. "Especially when you're not used to it and football's what you want to do in life. Not being able to play, it's hard."
Though he was told after the injury that he may never play again, Kindle never believed it.
"I didn't have any concern," he said. "Being a player, you think you can come back from any injury and ball just as hard as you did before it happened. That's how I was thinking."
Though there are no promises that Kindle has overcome his health issues, the linebacker remains upbeat and confident. He's hardly able to contain his excitement when thinking about an NFL career known for on-field accomplishments and not trips to the doctor.
"I don't think I have the words. I'm trying to get on (ESPN's) SportsCenter," he said. "That's something I've wanted to do my whole life. That's my lifelong dream. To actually hit the field, I'll just have to give thanks, because (God's) the one who got me there."