Sergio Kindle might as well have been playing offense he was in the backfield so much.
The third-year outside linebacker, who has gone through his share of trials, was in the midst of a sparkling practice.
Playing on the second team, granted without pads and against a banged-up offensive line, Kindle notched four sacks and an interception off a deflection on Friday.
It was the kind of day that gives a glimpse of the potential of the Ravens' top 2010 draft pick.
"My best practice ever," Kindle said with his wide, child-like smile afterwards.
"It just shows that when you don't have to think you play fast. That just brings in your instincts. And my instincts are to be a pass rusher and get to the quarterback. It just felt good to me today, man."
Kindle was out for all of 2010 after fracturing his skull before his NFL career even got off the ground. He returned last year, but wasn't ready for game action. He was activated for just two games.
Besides getting his legs back underneath him and back into top physical football shape, Kindle struggled to learn the playbook. Not having an offseason due to the lockout didn't help.
Kindle dug into learning Dean Pees' defensive scheme this offseason, and now has it etched into his brain.
"Real strength comes from knowing the playbook a whole lot more, knowing where you need to be, when you need to be there," Kindle said. "When you know that, you're playing fast. It's just like night and day."
Head Coach John Harbaugh, who more than a year ago wasn't sure if Kindle would ever make a full return, has been impressed by what he's seen thus far. Kindle occasionally played with the first team in Thursday's practice.
On Friday, Kindle showed his speed around the edge, and displayed enough strength to swim across the blocker's face and get inside.
"Sergio has done exceptionally well," Harbaugh said. "His quickness is back. He seems to have his balance back from what we saw in college. He's done a great job learning the defense. I can't wait to see him when we put the pads on and get in preseason games."
Kindle, who has said he knows this is a make-or-break season, could step into a role similar to what Paul Kruger filled last year: coming in on passing downs to get after quarterbacks. With Kruger looking like a starter, the Ravens could use Kindle to supplement.
For now, Kindle is just trying to maintain his progress.
"No mistakes per practice is the goal," he said. "I may have had one or two today, but last year it might have been 10 or 12. Progressively dropping them down, that's the goal."