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Arrowhead Report: Baldwin Takes Another Step

Posted Oct 5, 2011

Jonathan Baldwin getting closer to playing, Indy's two-headed pass rush and some advice for Curtis Painter

The status of first-round draft pick Jonathan Baldwin is sure to get plenty of play leading up to Sunday’s game in Indianapolis. For the first time since suffering a preseason thumb injury on

August 17th, Baldwin completed a full practice with the Chiefs offense.

On Wednesday afternoon, Baldwin caught footballs, ran routes and worked just as any other healthy wide receiver would. He had previously practiced in a limited capacity, running through individuals with the wide receivers, but heading to an alternate practice field when team repetitions began.

“He’s being evaluated every day just like everybody else,” Coach Todd Haley said. “His evaluation has just been a little different.

“It’s been interesting because he’s over on the other field most of the time just having the play read to him of what the rest of the guys are doing on Field One. He’s on Field Two, breaking his own two-man huddle because there’s a coach in there giving him the play, and then running the play, run and pass. It’s kind of like his OTAs, I’d say, that he’s just had a month of.”

Haley seemed encouraged about Baldwin’s status as on-field preparation for Indianapolis officially began. But both Haley and Baldwin also stopped short of declaring the wide receiver ready to play.

“That’s up to the coaches,” Baldwin said after practice.

This week presents an interesting scenario for the Chiefs and Baldwin.

Even if Baldwin practices fully throughout the week, which seems likely, the Chiefs may choose to hold him out for one more game. Doing so would give Baldwin three full weeks of practices before returning after the bye week October 23rd at Oakland.

Whenever Baldwin does return, how quickly he’s acclimated into the offensive game plan is also worth watching. The rookie has little experience working with QB Matt Cassel, having played with backup quarterbacks Tyler Palko and Ricky Stanzi in his only game of preseason work.

“We’ll just have to see where he is physically, but I know that he’s in good condition and he’s been really working hard,” Haley said. “I’m just excited that he’s able to – for his own personal self – to be able to get out there and start practicing again full on with his teammates.”

The Chiefs currently roster seven wide receivers, so there is no hurry to rush Baldwin back before both parties are comfortable. Haley also said he expects Baldwin to be able to contribute on special teams when he’s ready to make an NFL debut.

Chiefs Injury Report

WR Terrance Copper – Did Not Participate in Practice (Illness)

WR Jonathan Baldwin – Full Participant (Thumb)

S Jon McGraw – Full Participant (Knee)

Colts Injury Report

QB Peyton Manning – OUT (Neck)

T Anthony Castonzo – Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)

G Ryan Diem – Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)

DE Dwight Freeney – Did Not Participate in Practice (Abdominal)

DT Fili Moala – Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)

DT Drake Nevis – Did Not Participate in Practice (Back)

Limited Participants: QB Kerry Collins (Concussion), LB Ernie Sims (Knee)

Full Participants: TE Brody Eldridge (Knee), G Mike Pollak (Arm), G Joe Reitz (Ankle)

The Power of Two

Through four games, Tamba Hali is the lone Chiefs defender to record more than a single sack. He’s currently logged four.

In Kansas City’s 3-4 defense, where pressure is designed to come from the outside, Hali is the lone outside linebacker to register a single quarterback pressure. He’s currently recorded 11 such plays.

Though he’s received help rushing the passer from CB Javier Arenas come off the corner and from DE Wallace Gilberry in sub-package sets, Hali is often singled out in opposing blocking schemes. Despite that spotlight, he’s still been able to perform at a high level.

Over in Indianapolis, the Colts are blessed with a pair of premier pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The two have combined to give the Colts 174.0 sacks since Freeney arrived as a first-round pick in 2002 and Mathis as a fifth-round selection in 2003.

Freeney says the key to his long-term success in Indianapolis has been the forceful presence of a second pass rusher.

“What happens is they load up on me, and if they (also) load up on Robert, its less weapons they have to execute a game plan – a particular pass route, what have you,” Freeney explained. “So having a guy on that other side of the defense helps us out and it helps me out.

“I’m not going to win every single time. He’s not going to win every single time. But we complement each other and when he’s not there, I’m there sometimes and when I’m not there hopefully he is. That’s just how it is.”

Chiefs DEs Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson are run-first players by design, but the Chiefs are optimistic they have the in-house personnel to compliment Hali at the other outside linebacker position.

Rookie Justin Houston earned a starting spot opposite Hali out of training camp and Cameron Sheffield has garnered notable play-time after missing his entire rookie season with a neck injury. The Chiefs have seen flashes of promise from both players, but each is still waiting to record his first NFL sack.

“It’s not necessarily (Hali’s) job to worry about that,” Freeney said. “His job is to make a play and go out there and make plays happen.”

So far Hali has done just that. But the Chiefs are also hopeful they’re able to develop a dual force, much like the Colts have found with Freeney and Mathis.

Hey Curtis…

Matt Cassel has been in Curtis Painter’s shoes before. Replacing a future Hall of Famer isn’t an easy task, particularly at the quarterback position, and especially when you have little to no NFL experience as a starter.

Painter’s first career start in place of Peyton Manning was on display for all to see Monday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Having been there before, Cassel offered some advice for Painter during a conference call with the Indianapolis media Wednesday afternoon.

Cassel believes that successfully replacing a team’s long-time leader begins with winning over the locker room.

“It’s tough at first because at first you’re really trying to establish yourself with your teammates,” Cassel remembered. “From there, once you start playing and showing those guys you can play, the trust level goes up. Everyone starts to believe in you and you go from there. I know that (Curtis) is probably going through a lot (of that) right now in his situation.”

Early indications point to Painter making his second career start on Sunday against the Chiefs.

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