Sergio Kindle, a.k.a. The Predator, is finding new ways to prey.
Any doubt that Kindle would take to playing rush end full time in replacing Brian Orakpo can be discarded.
"I want to get more sacks than Rak had last year," Kindle said Thursday. "I really want to lead the nation."
THE PREDATOR HUMBLED
Kindle, who had 10.5 sacks to Orakpo's 11.5 sacks last season, feels like he's adding the tools necessary to do it. Last year, he had one move: speed to power. Baylor left tackle Jason Smith, projected as a top-five pick in April's NFL Draft, said Kindle was so predictable as a straight-ahead pass rusher that Smith took the aggressive approach of attacking Kindle.
"I saw on film that all his success came from getting into the tackle," Smith told Orangebloods.com. "So I took the approach of attacking him before he could get going."
Kindle said, "He (Smith) had one of the most difficult techniques I went up against. It worked because he slammed me on my head a couple times. I thought it was holding. But it never got called. So it must have been legal. But he had the most success blocking me."
ADDING NEW WEAPONS
Kindle wants to make sure it never happens again. He has put on five pounds - from 240 to 245 - and wants to play at 250. He uses his frustrating day against Smith as motivation. He's taking boxing classes with Lamarr Houston to work on his hand speed. He's added a speed rush to his speed-to-power bread-and-butter h as well as a rip move.
"I think the boxing has helped my game," Kindle said. "Boxers don't want to get hit. And with speed you don't really have to run into the lineman. You can go around him. That's what I didn't know how to do last year. That's what I'm working on this year.
"Obviously, the speed-to-power worked. So now I just have to put some other intangibles in the rush. I don't have to go through the lineman to get to the quarterback. Last year, I didn't think about hand work. They just kind of threw me in there, hoping I could get to the quarterback, and it worked pretty well.
"But with the skills I'm adding, I feel like the sky's the limit."
DEMARCUS WARE STARTER KIT
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has given Kindle videotape of Cowboys defensive end/outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to study.
"Ware is one of the best if not the best in the game," said Kindle, a Dallas native who grew up watching the Cowboys. "When you have speed, you have to use it to your advantage. The way he does it, it almost looks easy. That's what I'm trying to add to my game."
While Kindle loves watching Ware play, he said the ultimate defensive player in his mind was Lawrence Taylor.
"He was crazy, and his will was out the roof," Kindle said.
BACK TO WORK
Kindle, who spent spring break at home in Dallas with his 2-year-old son, Sergio Jr., said everyone seemed to come back from the break in spring ball in shape and with good focus.
"We're gelling," Kindle said. "We're getting better every day."
Kindle said he has been impressed with senior defensive tackle Ben Alexander, who is down to 310 pounds from close to 330.
"Ben Alexander has come a long way," Kindle said. "He got his weight down and is playing well - really well actually."
OKAFOR A RISING STAR
Kindle is also amazed by the presence of freshman Alex Okafor.
"Coming in as a freshman, he's doing some things I've never seen, and there have been some pretty good D-ends who have come through here," Kindle said. "He's catching on real quick. And with as long and as strong as he is, he's a force to be reckoned with. He's smart, he's fast, he's physical - and he has the will to get to the quarterback and to be great, which is the most important thing."
Kindle said the defense is forcing more turnovers in spring practice than last year.
"That's been a main issue, and we're still not at our goal (three a practice)," Kindle said. "But we're not just trying to get to the quarterback. We're working on the hook and swat to get the ball out. I can't tell you what the DBs are doing to create more turnovers - hopefully just catching the ball."
FINDING NEXT BUCK END
Kindle said linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who has been working at end in the Buck Package, is still early in his transition.
"They wouldn't have put Emmanuel there if they didn't think he could do it," Kindle said. "He just needs to get more comfortable there."
Kindle said Jared Norton hasn't yet gotten a look as the Buck defensive end because he's been too busy holding down the job of middle linebacker.
READY FOR THE CHALLENGE
When it comes to stopping the run, Kindle said he's working on "widening." Instead of bull rushing, Kindle said it's about getting wider base, holding the point of attack, then shedding the block and making the play.
"I would expect people to run at me and test me," Kindle said. "I would hope so. I'll be ready."
Kindle doesn't hide that he'd like to have a year similar to the one Orakpo had in 2008.
"Lord willing," Kindle said. "Hopefully, it will be like that. I just got to work for it. That's what he did. Look where he's at now.
"I just have to get more comfortable at the position, which is what I'm doing now. Rak has been playing it all his life. So he's still going to have an advantage. But I think I've got some moves now. They seem to be working, so I'll see how far that will take me."
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