Saturday, July 28, 2012
Possibilities for Baldwin, Seahawks WRs
By Mike Sando
Naming the starting wide receivers for the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks requires more than familiarity with the NFC West.
It also requires time.
Four starting jobs appear legitimately unsettled as training camps get going. Teams won't have answers for weeks in most cases. This assumes the Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss will be the San Francisco 49ers' starters. Rookie Michael Floyd figures to start for Arizona, but first he'll have to win earn the job. And the Rams have two starting spots open.
In Seattle, where Sidney Rice stands as the only established starter when healthy, the depth chart carries a few possibilities. The team opened training camp Saturday with quite a few questions -- "options" would be a more optimistic word -- at the position.
Doug Baldwin, who led NFC West receivers and tight ends in third-down conversion rate as a rookie last season, excelled from the slot in particular. He's a candidate to start on the outside this season. Golden Tate, back at practice Saturday when camp opened after resting a hand injury in minicamps, could also factor. Ricardo Lockette is one to watch. He has good size (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) and blazing speed.
The incumbent starter, Mike Williams, struggled with injuries last season before his release earlier this month.
Rice practiced Saturday wearing a red jersey making him off-limits to contact from teammates, a precaution as Rice returns from surgery on both shoulders.
The hyper-competitive Baldwin wants to push for a starting job without campaigning for one. He made 42 of his team-high 51 receptions last season from the slot. The team targeted him 14 times from elsewhere on the field, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"I was able to have some success as a slot receiver, but ultimately I feel capable of doing so much more," Baldwin said during a phone interview Saturday. "I'm not bound to the slot position. But at the same time, I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. I don’t want to be that guy. I'm not a selfish player. Wherever coaches want me, I'll play."
Baldwin and quarterback Matt Flynn practiced together between June minicamps and training camp. The two had an early connection when Baldwin agreed to give up his No. 15 jersey for Flynn upon the quarterback's signing in free agency.
Baldwin is wearing No. 89. Will he stand No. 2 among Seattle wideouts?
"We just finished our first practice at camp," Baldwin said. "Let that play out. Like coach says, the cream rises to the top. Gotta make plays."