Baldwin went through a tryout of sorts this week, practicing fully for the first time this season and taking part in all team repetitions. His progress was watched closely throughout the week by head coach Todd Haley, offensive coordinator Bill Muir and wide receivers coach Richie Anderson.
“He has been working very hard, but he just hasn’t had a lot of action in a team setting,” Haley said. “There are a lot of factors at play, the least of which is his health. We feel good about that. That’s why he’s practicing and that’s why he’s working. It’s just a matter of making sure come Sunday we have the right 46 (players) active and we’re doing what is best for the team.”
Did Baldwin know where to align once he broke the huddle? Is he up to date with all of the offensive changes that have occurred since he last took the field in the preseason opener? Was his timing with QB
Those were some of the factors Chiefs coaches paid attention to throughout the week of practices and, by all accounts, it appears the staff walked away pleased with Baldwin’s progression.
“He’s physically and mentally ready to go,” Haley said.
“I’ll be real honest with you, what we saw this week was very encouraging,” Muir added.
Previously, Baldwin had been working individually with offensive quality control coach Nick Sirianni on a side field. Haley compared those one-on-one sessions to OTA-type practices the team conducts in the spring. Muir said the time spent with Sirianni helped improve Baldwin’s chances of joining the lineup.
Until Wednesday afternoon, the first-round draft pick hadn’t participated in a complete practice since injuring his thumb August 17th.
“I really feel (the work with Nick) benefitted him,” Haley said. “It’s just so hard for young receivers to get into the mix. They are worrying about so many different things – conditioning, breaking the huddle, lining up, motions, routes, all of those things, depths of routes. Those things he doesn’t have to think about.”
The Chiefs are officially listing Baldwin as probable for Sunday’s game, but the offensive staff will continue discussing its plans for the receiver through the weekend.
“It’s just a matter of making sure we are doing the right thing for the team and that we feel 100% that he is ready for the speed, tempo and those things,” Haley said.
“This guy has taken essentially every rep that we’ve taken for the last four or five weeks. It’s just been mostly on the other field. He’s now been able to get out there and started to be involved to where he’s actually involved in plays, both run and pass, and in special teams also.”
Earlier this week, Baldwin indicated he was willing to play whatever role asked to get on the field for the first time season.
“I just need to do everything I can to help the team,” Baldwin said. “That’s the main thing, do whatever the team asks me to do.”